Mental health and well-being is critical to our communities, our workplaces, our families and our state.
Something many people often forget about is mental health. Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. The effects it has can change how we feel, think and act, and can determine how we handle stress or relate to others.
For the last 22 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the focus of everyone’s thoughts, and it has taken its toll on the mental health of many. Our friends at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Psychiatric Institute say that in one survey of Americans, 65 percent reported that COVID-19 was causing significant stress in their lives and complicating much of what they do. About 45 percent of people of all ages reported significant loneliness. Many Arkansans have risen to the challenge to stop the spread of COVID-19, and we are inching closer to returning to what some consider normal.
With the stress and anxiety many face with returning to society, and seeing people in person, some for the first time in over a year, that can create problems for many who struggle with mental health.
Thankfully, because Arkansans are focused on helping our neighbors, there are several places and organizations you can reach out to. NAMI Arkansas is a statewide nonprofit organization that aims to educate and help those who struggle with mental health. Cerebral is a telehealth option that aids those with or without insurance. UAMS created AR-Connect that can help Arkansans, with no out-of-pocket expense, who are experiencing stress or mental health issues related to the pandemic. In south Arkansas, three brothers created Integrity Telehealth, which directs students and teachers to appropriate counseling and mental health services. There are plenty of options available to help those who need it.
The fact is, none of us can do it by ourselves, and the good news is that you don’t have to. Plenty of people are standing by, trained and ready to guide you out of the darkness. That is the message of hope you will find in this magazine you are reading, AY’s 2021 Arkansas Mental Health Guide. Whether it’s depression, addiction, the mental wear and tear of daily life, or all of the above, your fellow Arkansans want to help, and they are just waiting for you to ask.