Tired of social distancing? Tired of the quarantine? Tired of living a new normal? Take charge of this atypical time by following the Mental Health Action Plan created by the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, an organization that equips individuals with the knowledge to recognize, accept, and take action when it comes to mental health.
To follow the Mental Health Action Plan you must first understand mental health, which is three simple things: how you think, act, and feel. Simply put, it’s how you live, laugh, and love. At this point, you’ve probably seen it all – the videos, the memes, the self care pushes, the calls to kindness, how to avoid “cabin fever.” All of these are great ways to keep us living, laughing, and loving during this time of uncertainty.
While looking out for one another seems almost comical without being able to physically spend time together, it’s more important now than ever. People are without jobs, kids are out of school, and our routines are new. As this isn’t enough already, parents are trying to figure out how to keep their families safe from a virus that doctors are still trying to figure out. That being said, we’re going to guide you through a mental health check-in using the be nice. Action Plan to notice, invite, challenge, and empower. These four steps are a proactive mental health action plan for individuals of all ages.
Step 1: Notice
Start by noticing the good things in your life right now. What are some positive experiences that have come from quarantining? By recognizing the good, we can notice the different. Life is a lot different for all of us right now, but are you noticing behavioral, psychological, or physical changes in yourself or others lasting two weeks or longer? If so, this could be the sign of a mental health concern.
Step 2 & 3: Invite & Challenge
If this is the case, invite yourself to talk to the person you’ve noticed changes in. If it’s yourself, challenge yourself to reach out to someone you trust. Talking to someone about their mental health doesn’t have to be intimidating. Be honest and say, “I’ve noticed [fill in the blank] and I’m worried about you. You’re usually [fill in the blank with a good attribute you’ve noticed is missing!]. Are you feeling okay?
The #1 reason someone suffers from a mental illness in silence is because of stigma and shame associated with feeling this way. By simply starting this dialogue you’re challenging stigma.
Step 4: Empower
While it’s easy to fall into the trap of binge watching TV shows or scrolling through social media, challenge yourself to take a break and do something good for your mental health. This could be spending a few minutes outside deep breathing, exercising, playing with your kids or pet, calling a loved one to chat – the list goes on and on. Self care is a great way to empower your mental health. Humans are resilient by nature. Find what makes you resilient during this time and hold on to that.
This blog post was written by Jessica Jones, Program Promotion Coordinator, Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan (be nice.) and edited by Sara Sefcik and Amanda Walma at Kent ISD.