May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health includes a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Put simply, it affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
The pandemic’s strain on patients and healthcare providers has measurably had a negative impact on the mental health of nurses and healthcare clinicians. It’s been a relentlessly stressful, even traumatic, few years for frontline healthcare workers. A recent study showed that more than 70% of health care workers in the United States have symptoms of anxiety and depression, 38% have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 15% have had recent thoughts of suicide or self-harm. If you’re among those struggling, we urge you to consider assessment and treatment.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 46% of people who die by suicide had a diagnosed mental health condition — yet 90% of those who died by suicide had experienced symptoms of a mental health condition. This disparity highlights the need for mental health services, and to get help before the point of experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness
Here are some common signs and symptoms of mental illness in adults and adolescents:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling exceptionally sad or low
- Extreme mood changes
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
If these behaviors sound familiar, that’s because mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety are common and treatable. Many people who have mental health disorders consider their signs and symptoms a normal part of life or avoid treatment out of shame or fear. If you’re concerned about your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek help. With appropriate support, you can identify mental health conditions and receive appropriate treatment, such as medication or counseling.
If you’re having feelings or behaviors like those listed above and aren’t sure what to do next, an online screening through Mental Health America is one of the easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. The results of your online screening with Mental Health America are anonymous. Only you will know the results. Once you know, what steps can you take to address your mental health needs and concerns?
You can consult your primary care doctor or make an appointment with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional. If you don’t have a primary care physician, take steps to find a local provider and/or a provider who offers telehealth. If your employer offers one, you can also access an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for counseling help.
Medical Solutions Free Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
All Medical Solutions employees, including traveling nurses and clinicians, have access to eight, free, in-person or remote counseling sessions per year, per issue. EAP advocates will work with you and your household members to help address or resolve issues you may be facing, connect you with mental health professionals, and direct you to a variety of helpful resources in your community.
If you’re a current Medical Solutions employee and would like information on accessing your free EAP benefits, please contact your recruiter to learn more.
There’s also a digital option to use from the convenience of your personal device (iOS, Android, and Web). Talkspace is a digital resource for private and convenient mental health support for you or a loved one. With Talkspace, you can choose your therapist from a list of recommended, licensed providers and receive support day and night.
After registration, you can exchange unlimited messages (text, voice, and video) with your personal therapist. You can engage daily, five days per week, which often includes weekends. If you work for Medical Solutions, one week of Talkspace equals one free employer paid EAP session.
Additional Mental Health Resources
Several additional resources detail various mental health conditions and how to identify them, educate on how to talk about mental health, and offer actionable steps for finding help, including:
- Mental Health America — MHANational.org
- National Alliance on Mental Illness — NAMI.org
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — SuicidePreventionLifeline.org and 800.273.TALK
- Cigna Health and Wellness — Cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness
- Boys Town — YourLifeYourVoice.org and national hotline 800.448.3000
- SAMHSA — SAMHSA.gov/find-help/national-helpline
Mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you were in physical pain, you would take steps to address it. Please take steps to assess, seek help, and get appropriate professional treatment if you’re showing signs of any mental illness.