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May is mental health month: how to make it a priority

Posted at 5:32 AM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 10:05:41-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In one way shape or form, we're all feeling the impact of the pandemic. Our mental health is not excluded from this, but there are resources and people who can help.

Christy Buck, the founder of be nice. and the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, says this time is hard for everyone around the world.

"Your mental health is real basic. and it is how you're thinking, how you're acting and how you're feeling. and so there are certain things in our lives that can affect this," says Christy. So, we're really pushing to notice if my mental health is being affected beyond just, you know, day to day, I can still get up and i can feel better, and i can go to bed and i can sleep at night. now i need to have a better recognition when I'm not able to do those things."

Katie Preston, 20, was actually working in South Africa as a model when she had to rush back home as travel restrictions started to be put in place.

"I have noticed my anxiety has been crazy right now," Katie said. "I looked at my phone and it says your flight got canceled and the amount of panic that came through my body I will never ever forget."

Katie has always struggled with anxiety and anxiety attacks, but it took time for her to truly recognize what was happening.

"When I kind of approached high school, i started feeling very sad for some reason, and very just anxious all the time. and I just felt like, I kept that to myself, and I didn't really want to talk to people about it, because I just felt like I was just sad and there was nothing i could do about it."

That is when Katie finally decided to reach out to her mom.

"I told her, I can't keep brushing this off I'm just sad today, I'll be okay, tomorrow," said Katie. "I can't keep doing this because I feel like that's not what it is."

Katie was able to find a therapist and started her mental health journey.

"The first step is always the hardest," Katie said. "Once you admit that there's something going on, you can finally take those steps, you know to change them and you can finally take those steps to prepare yourself with the tools that you need to handle those things properly and in a healthy way."

Christy says paying attention to those around us will help us all move forward in the right direction.

"So you know, folks can't seem to figure out what I can do to help myself either," Christy said. "So, that's why we're all playing a big part in this and we need to be paying attention to our friends. to our family members, to our peers and our co workers, to get them feeling like there's hope."

"What can you do, especially right now in these times? Christy says to start, it actually can be simple.

"Very similar to our physical health, things that I'm doing for that are also good for my mental health," said Christy "So, exercising, get out and doing that walking, meditation, mindfulness, practice, positive self talk. it's so big. I mean, that used to be a Saturday night live skit, but it's the truth if I can get up and look myself in the mirror and say, you know what, I'm gonna have a good day today and work on it."

The reality is, whether you’ve dealt with a mental illness or not, right now, we have to make our mental health a priority and know that whatever you’re going through. You’re don’t have to do it alone.

"I felt like I was the only person in the world who felt the way that I did" Katie said. "When the second I spoke up, I had so many people around me saying, oh, you feel like this. I feel just like you as well. That's crazy and then the next thing I knew, I had a huge support system around me."