Making mental health a priority during coronavirus

More people are reporting increased stress of anxiety due to the coronavirus, recent studies have found.

DENVER — Our world is different, our day-to-day life has changed, and this can affect the way we think and act. Mental health experts are reminding people to take care of themselves, especially right now, as we continue to adjust to life during the coronavirus pandemic.

World Mental Health Day is this Saturday, Oct. 10, and it’s a good reminder to take some time to go back to the basics and take care of yourself.

Self-care goes beyond dieting and exercising to maintain good physical health, your mental health should also be a top priority too, according to medical experts.

Dr. Jody Ryan, chief medical officer at Mental Health Center of Denver, said the pandemic has had a major effect on people, and they’ve been working to help clients adjust to meetings and social distancing.

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“Most of our workforce is working remotely, and many of the people we serve don’t have access to technology for us to conduct video assessments, so many of them are by phone,” he said.

Some have struggled with video chats and phone calls being their new normal because they need that one-on-one physical interaction.

“Then there are others that are thriving and appreciate that we are able to do this, and they recognize that it’s convenient and really patient-centered because they are able to deliver care right into their home,” said Ryan.

According to a new report by the Kaiser Foundation, adults are struggling with mental health issues linked to worry and stress due to COVID-19.

From March to July of 2020, numbers have gone up from 32% to 53%. Those experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression jumped from 11% to 40%.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that in June of 2020 13% of adults either started or increased alcohol or drug use to cope with the pandemic and 11% considered suicide.

“This may be a good time to take a break from alcohol and drugs if you are feeling down stressed and anxious,” said Ryan.

It’s also a good time to be flexible, try new things, and take advantage of what Colorado has to offer.

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“The world is different right now so we have to figure out those different ways we can connect with people,” said Ryan. “If it’s people within our bubble great and if it’s people outside of our bubble there are ways to connect by going for a walk with mask or hiking in the mountains,”

He said it’s important to be good to yourself and have self-compassion.

“If you are having a bad day then be okay with that we are in a pandemic and every day is not going to be great,” said Ryan.

Taking time to think of things you are grateful for can also help boost your mood, according to Ryan.

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