Assessing Your Mental Health
Recent times can be classified as nothing other than tough. However, life and anxiety in the time of COVID-19 did shed light on an often overlooked aspect of our holistic wellbeing – mental health. While we’ve long known the value of a healthy mental state and feeling supported in life, recent decades have brought about a variety of important mental health tools, medical expertise and mental health awareness. As we emerge from a difficult year, and begin to shift seasons from the grays of winter to the bright colors of spring, there has never been a better time to assess your mental health.
Fortunately, the Roaring Fork Valley is not only an excellent place to step outside, breathe in some fresh air, and clear your mind, it’s also teeming with important and valuable mental health resources.
It’s been a rough year. I’m feeling overwhelmed. Quarantine and the trauma of 2020 have left me feeling hopeless. I would like to get some help, but I have no idea where to start.
First, know you’re not alone. It might sound cliche, but it’s important to understand that mental health and self-care are important to all of us, and everyone struggles with life’s challenges. Connecting with the most appropriate resources is a great first step. Enter Aspen Strong. The Roaring Fork Valley-based nonprofit raises awareness of and improves mental health in the Roaring Fork Valley by creating sustainable financial resources, uniting professionals and agencies in mental health, and supporting and implementing proven education and action. The organization’s goal is to inspire a movement that promotes healthy community dialogue where suicide is recognized as preventable and mental wellness is embraced and supported within the community and organizational structure.
Aspen Strong provides a variety of resources to help address, empower and improve mental hygiene. These resources include mental health crisis hotlines, mental health screenings and support specific to mental health during COVID-19.
I’m feeling on-edge and out of control. I’m not sure what to do.
It’s understandable. Taking control of your mental health often begins with connecting with a mental health professional or support group that can work with you to help you achieve mental wellbeing. Aspen Hope Center is an excellent local resource, providing an initial assessment for those in a state of crisis, followed by interactions with a variety of specialists before transitioning to a weekly therapy program. Additionally, Aspen Hope Center offers a variety of community resources, including a 24-hour Hopeline, information and resources, community education, crisis intervention, and collaborations with other agencies, local businesses and nonprofits.
I’m optimistic about the future, but I’m still trying to reconcile the trauma of the past.
With vaccinations happening, kids returning to school, and the opportunity to connect with friends and family becoming a safer activity, we have a lot to celebrate. That said, many of us experienced great loss, grief and difficulty. Some experienced the most painful loss, having to say goodbye to a loved one. Others lost jobs. Kids were out of school. After four years of high school or college, graduations happened online, if at all. Now, many of us are left trying to bridge the gap between the year that was and the year that is on the horizon.
To help, Mind Springs Health – the Western Slope’s largest behavioral health care organization – has collected an excellent Mental Health Care Kit, including how to manage mask wearing anxiety, how to access therapy and psychiatry at Mind Springs Health, a free self-care app and a back-to-school toolkit.
Pandemic fatigue – is it an actual medical condition?
Yes. And, according to Michelle Miscione, PhD, a Behavioral Health Specialist at Aspen Valley Hospital Primary Care, in a recent AVH panel discussion on the topic, pandemic fatigue is something we’re all facing. “If you are saying you haven’t experienced pandemic fatigue, I would beg to differ,” she says. “It can show up incrementally in a small way or in a larger way. What it looks like is what you might guess, fatigue, depression, heightened anxiety, apathy, a disinterest in connecting, ruminations. Think about running a marathon and what your body might feel like after that, and that would probably be a good definition for pandemic fatigue.”
She goes on to say that you can have one or all of these symptoms. Continuing the marathon metaphor, Miscione says everyone’s body reacts differently to running 26.2 miles, just like everyone’s mental health has suffered differently this past year. The first step in taking care of our mental health is acknowledging the importance of it to our overall wellness. And the Aspen Valley medical and mental health communities are here to help. Mental health matters.