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Your Mental Health During A Pandemic 

As a result of dealing with all different kinds of changes in our lives, many mental health challenges have risen.  Before the pandemic, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in all ages in the US. Now, at least 123 Americans take their own lives each day.

Alongside practicing social distancing, proper hygiene, wearing a mask, and other new “normals” added to our everyday lives, your mental health is just as important. 

“Today I want to focus on an aspect of this crisis that has often gone unaddressed, there are severe mental health challenges going on as a result of this virus,” Governor Tate Reeves said during his Friday press briefing. “There is fear, there is pain and there is anxiety in this country and in our state and those can not be overstated.” 

Unemployment rates have skyrocketed, businesses have been forced to close, this pandemic has rocked the worlds of thousands statewide. 

“First, from me to anyone who needs to hear this, do not give up,” Governor Reeves said, “Do not give up on life, even if you do not feel it today, you are valued, you are loved, you are needed… We are a better place because of you.” 

While depression and anxiety disorders affect many Mississippians and Americans nationwide, Governor Reeves said they are powerful diseases of the mind, and being in a lockdown does not help deal with these monsters. 

In a recent study done by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, 1 in 5 Mississippians will deal with a mental illness at some point in their life, 1 in 25 will experience a serious mental illness (bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.).

Chief of Staff of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, Wendy Bailey, joined the Governor for his press conference and gave these tips on how to help your mental health:

  • Step back  and disconnect from social media 
  • Take care of your body 
  • Connect with your faith 
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals 
  • Exercise regularly
  • Connect with others 

“Social distancing has saved so many lives, but it does not mean disconnecting from everyone,” Bailey said. “Make sure you stay connected with your loved ones and talk about your concerns and how you’re feeling.”

Mental health is something that isn’t always the easiest thing to talk about or get help for.  Often, people just try to overlook it, but that doesn’t mean it just goes away, everyone needs to stop and take care of themselves. 

“Self-care is not selfish. It’s okay to take care of you and celebrate those small wins,” Bailey said.

“When your feelings start to impact how you function each day, please know you are not alone,” Bailey states. “Help is available and there are some resources.” 

Those resources are: 

  • standupms.org 
    • Treatment providers to help with substance abuse 
  • Mobile Crisis Response Teams in all 82 counties 
  • MS Dept of Health helpline
    • 1-877-210-8513
  • National Disaster Distress Helpline 
    • 1-800-985-5990
  • National Suicide Prevention lifeline 
    • 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Just looking at Mississippi calls alone, there has been a 20% increase in the number of calls from February to April to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“Mississippi is known for taking care of their neighbors, and taking care of each other,” Bailey stated. “But oftentimes we want to make sure everyone around us is okay, but we forget about taking care of ourselves.” 

Governor Reeves encourages every Mississippian to reach out to their loved ones, and check on one another during this time. 

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