May is Mental Health Awareness Month. One in 5 adults in the United States has a mental health concern in a given year; over 43 million people here in our country. The scenario above represents a brief glimpse into the realities of living with depression and anxiety. Though not always, many who suffer from one will also experience symptoms of the other. While there are many more mental health issues than depression and anxiety, they certainly are at the top of the list for being most common.
Imagine battling depression and anxiety and then add in the stress of a pandemic to your situation. COVID-19 has been a trigger for many of the patients we see, some of whom already experience instability.
Concerns of patients I have met with include:
- Unemployment taking a while to get started or difficulty in navigating the system
- Fear of working in a manufacturing or retail environment because of exposure to the public
- Lack of hours at work due to being non-essential but unable to work from home
- Uncertainty about having enough food
For one of our patients, the day of her appointment was a really difficult day. Housing was already more than challenging, and for years, the only bed she had known was the couch of whoever would let her stay for a few days. Isolated from family, she was becoming more and more depressed. COVID-19 hit and she just felt hopeless. This patient’s candidness with medical staff and myself allowed us to provided resources for safety in times of crisis, the prescribing of medications, and the scheduling of a follow up appointment.
The impact of COVID-19 has continued for this patient, with work hours reduced to practically nothing. However, the patient says her outlook on life is brighter. The prescribing of medication and support from the His Hands team has brought encouragement and the strength to continue persevering.
Mental health continues to carry a stigma in our country and around the world. People seen at the clinic deserve dignity, respect, and to be known as a person, not just known as the summation of their mental health diagnosis. As we strive to be relational-oriented as a clinic, our goal for patients is that they feel deeply cared for and comfortable coming forward to discuss mental health in an honest way.