Expert discusses COVID-19 pandemic impact on mental health

Pandemic impact on mental health

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Wearing a face mask is a way of telling others that you care about their physical health, but in these strange times, mental health can be just as important, and there are ways that we can reach out and help those who may be suffering.

Alabama Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear says one does not have to be personally touched by the coronavirus in order to feel the isolating effects of the pandemic.​

​"We may not have lost a loved one, but we certainly feel a loss," she said.​

​Beshear suggested taking a moment to examine our feelings. If they are stealing our everyday joys or preventing us from functioning normally, then we may be suffering from something more serious than a simple case of the blues.

She also encouraged Alabamians to look out for their friends and loved ones. Withdrawing from society, refusing to eat, inability to sleep, or sleeping too much can be signs that someone needs help. Relying too much on alcohol and drugs is another possible sign.

“You can approach them with an 'I' feeling. Say something like, ‘I’m just not feeling like myself. Are you having those kinds of feelings’" Beshear explained.

“Or just say, ‘I’ve noticed you’ve been sleeping a lot lately. I’m concerned about you,' It’s perfectly fine to say, ‘I’m concerned about you,’”​ she said.

Talk of suicide requires immediate intervention, whether it be through emergency medical services or law enforcement, but even in less serious cases of mental illness, getting help sooner rather than later can prevent potential crises down the road.​

​If you or someone you know is in need of help, you’ll find resources at the Alabama Mental Health Department’s website. The department also runs 19 mental health clinics around the state. For more information, call 1-800-367-0955.​

In cases of emergency, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day. The number is 1-800-273-8255.​

​Or you can contact any number of licensed counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists in private practice.​

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.