We're being pushed to the limit now a days. Everyone is feeling the effects of COVID-19 in one way or another. It might be financial stress. Some are being asked to work more, some, are home sidelined with their daily routine ground to a halt. Isolation is a key factor to some and anyone exposed to the level of confusion on social media right now is starting to see that there isn't much "normal" anywhere.
While all of this adds up to a heavy weight to bear for anyone, everyone is getting a level of stress and anxiety that we've seldom seen in our lifetime. Some, who didn't live through past national crisis' have never seen this. It's a tough situation and mental well-being is being put to the test. Mental struggles are part of life for anyone, but they are amplified like never before as we try to navigate what's happening. One thing is for certain. Trying to handle mental health issues or specifically a mental health crisis on your own, thinking it will "just go away", it's probably not the best idea. In Muskegon County though, we have an amazing resource for that, it's HealthWest.
Our Community Mental Health Agency was renamed HealthWest a few years ago, kind of a "re-branding" if you will, but their essential services are a major part of the overall well-being of the community as well as keeping their finger on the pulse of us as a whole to know how we're doing has been a big part of their mission all along. HealthWest helps with those who struggle with substance abuse issues, behavioral health, youth and family services, psychological first aid, peer to peer specialist services, psychiatric care and so much more. These are all somewhat scary terms for sure, but let's work to break down some of the myths about mental health.
Everyone will have a time where mentally, they just feel like they can't take it anymore. It's called being human. The first thing you need to know is, that you're not alone! There are so many people out there who have sought the help of mental health professionals so that they could adjust what their mind is doing. Yes, even the author of this article. Without the help of addiction specialists and counselling for almost 3 years, life for your old buddy Andy O, would have been over. But, to many there is such a sense of shame in asking for help. I am here to tell you....there's none. Humans need to rely on one another, and sometimes humans need to rely on those who have special training to help clear you out of the clouds you've gathered to get to where you're ok. Trust me on this one...I know what I am talking about.
Back to HealthWest. It's an awesome group of people. The first thing they understand, Muskegon as a whole. Our community is unique. Our people are unique and sadly, as a community, we've had our fair share of trauma. There's no real up to the minute data on substance usage, but as you'll hear Lauren Meldrum talk in our interview....it's been increasing over the years. Add in anxiety, frustration, isolation, fear and confusion...it's pretty easy to see it's busy season at HealthWest.
Innovation is happening though. While the number of "contact" meetings is down, online meetings are up. "Tele-health" is equally becoming a useful tool in the mental health world as it is the physical health world. How about an online group therapy session you can join? It's not only a great way to share some feelings, but the most important part of any group setting...you see very quickly...you are not alone.
Take a listen to the talk between Lauren Meldrum and I today. Yes, I share some pretty personal stories in the hopes that people see that mental health is real..and anyone can use help in it. Lauren explains what is available and how you can benefit. It's an essential conversation for some to hear.
Fear. Totally get it. It's a scary thing to ask for help. It's a scary thing to think that in your personal tool kit there isn't whats needed to handle what comes at you. But that first step is all you need to take. HealthWest is right there for you. Please, don't be afraid to raise your hand and ask. Reach out to see what can happen if you take that first step toward your mental well being and find the tools you need to get past our current crisis, or any other to come along in your life, or our collectively. You are an essential part of what makes us a community and HealthWest is there for you on every level, from an emergency to just some support online with others. To visit their website, please click on the image below. Please...for all of us....take care of yourself.