Finding Hope and Healing for Mental Health & Addiction
Apr 26, 2023
Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to focus on the importance of maintaining good mental health and to raise awareness about mental health issues.
Mental Health Awareness Month also presents the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about the connection between mental health and addiction. It is important that we shine a light on the reality that addiction and mental health issues are closely related and often go hand in hand. By raising awareness, we can help break the stigma and create a more understanding and supportive environment for those who are struggling with addiction and mental health issues. We can also help educate individuals, families and communities about the resources and support available to them, and empower them to take the first step toward recovery and healing.
Let’s use this month as a call to action to speak out, listen and educate ourselves and others about addiction and mental health. And let’s make sure that everyone who is struggling knows that they are not alone and that help is available.
The Continuing Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Mental Health and Addiction
The stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic have led to increased rates of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. To make matters worse, the isolation and lack of social contact during the pandemic has been linked to a rise in substance use and mental health disorders. With increased isolation, the risk of addiction spikes as people feel more lonely, sad and depressed. Many have turned to alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, this is temporary relief with long-term problems.
To put the rise in substance use and mental health disorders in perspective:
- By January 2021, about 41% of adults in the U.S. had experienced symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders, which is a significant increase from 11% in 2019.[i]
- In a study conducted across 130 countries, 60% of the surveyed countries reported disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[ii]
- The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder was approximately three times higher in 2020 (25.5%) compared to 2019 (8.1%), and the prevalence of depressive disorder was about four times higher in 2020 (24.3%) compared to 2019 (6.5%).[iii]
- 13% of U.S. adults reported starting or increasing substance use as a way to cope with stress or emotions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.[iv]
- By October 2021, over 104,000 people in the U.S. had died from a fentanyl overdose over the last twelve months.[v]
- In December 2021, CDC showed that fentanyl overdoses had become the leading cause of death among Americans ages 18-45.[vi]
- In 2020, alcohol-related deaths spiked by 25% over the past year, compared to the average rate of 3.6% per year between 1999 and 2019.[vii]
Removing the Stigma around Mental Health and Addiction
While it is important that people who are struggling with substance use and mental health have access to the support and resources they need to cope and recover, mental health and addiction are still stigmatized in many parts of the world. The stigmas and misconceptions over mental health and addiction lead people to feel ashamed, isolated and fearful of seeking help. This can prevent them from receiving the treatment and care they need, making their conditions worse, and in some cases lead even to suicide.
Removing the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction is crucial for people to feel comfortable reaching out for help and support. We need to create an environment where people feel safe discussing their mental health and addiction without fear of judgment, discrimination or shame. This can only happen by changing the way society talks about and understands mental health and addiction.
What is the Connection between Mental Health and Addiction?
As a first step to fostering a safe and open environment for these conversations, it is crucial to understand that the relationship between addiction and mental health is complex. Often, those struggling with addiction have underlying mental health issues, while those with mental health issues may develop drug and alcohol addiction as a form of self-medication.
We must recognize that addiction is not a personal weakness or moral failing, but a disease that affects the brain—altering the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. This interconnection between addiction and mental health means that recovery must address both aspects. It’s important for healthcare professionals and loved ones to be aware of the connection between the two, and to approach treatment in a holistic and compassionate way that addresses both issues simultaneously. With the right resources, support and understanding, recovery is possible and hope for a better future is achievable.
Start Your Journey to Recovery
Here are a few tips to help you support your mental health:
- Take care of your physical health. Physical health and mental health are closely interconnected, and taking care of your physical health can have a positive impact on your mental health. The means getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep.
- Find healthy ways to cope with stress. Stress is a normal part of life, but it’s important to find healthy ways to cope with it. The might include practicing relaxation techniques, engaging in hobbies or activities you enjoy or finding healthy outlets for your emotions.
- Take breaks. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, but it’s important to take breaks and give yourself time to relax and recharge. This could mean taking a walk outside, reading a book or spending time with loved ones.
- Seek support. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to deal with mental health issues on your own. Seeking support from friends, family or a mental health professional can be incredibly helpful in managing mental health challenges.
If you are struggling with mental health and addiction, and feel like you can’t cope on your own, it’s important to seek professional help to guide and support on your recovery journey.
It can feel overwhelming to take the first step toward treatment but know that you are not alone. Now is the time to begin to take control of your life and start the journey toward healing and recovery. Reach out today at (833) 505-4673.