Why I'm Thankful For The Pandemic - From a Mental Health Professionals Perspective
As a Clinical Research Coordinator and someone who herself has struggled with anxiety, the pandemic has started a conversation around mental health that in my opinion was much needed. Every morning, you wake up and see another article surrounding mental health, or your favorite celebrity, youtuber, or tik-toker letting their guard down and opening up about their own mental health struggles. What was once such a taboo subject has now become a topic that everyone is discussing and bringing awareness too. Although this pandemic has now led to what is being described as a “mental health crisis” or a “mental health pandemic”, we are now more than ever openly discussing challenges, illnesses, and experiences that not too long ago were being endured alone, as well as hidden internally. Discussing mental health has not always been the first-choice topic of conversation. No one wants to be “labeled”, feel embarrassed or perceive that something may be wrong with them. This pandemic has brought clarity and shown us that mental health does not discriminate, it is not a choice, and you cannot just pick and choose what mental illness you will or will not have.
Just today I woke up, and saw an article related to mental health. Reading that article was comparable to being a kid on Christmas morning. It brought me joy and made me realize how much progression has been made regarding topics of psychological health, & it is because of the impact this whole pandemic has had on us.
As a Researcher specializing in Mental Health and Psychiatry, I am trained on many of these mental health disorders and afflictions. I know how to understand what my body is feeling, recognize my negative thought processes, and even how to cognitively restructure a lot of the maladaptive interpretations I make. I know how to do all these things, and yet, I do not do them. Why, you may ask… great question, I have absolutely no idea. Which makes it all the more obvious to see how other people are really suffering. We have to do better, & find more ways to help.
We have been cooped up, isolated, & lacking essential human interaction that makes our minds strong and healthy. Even what seemed like the happiest people have experienced significant anxiety and depression. But despite all of the negative that has come from this, I am grateful for the spotlight it has put on mental health as a whole, and I am proud to be part of a team that is (and has been) working to make the situation better.
I am thankful for the open conversations.
I am thankful this mental health is being publicly discussed. I am proud that this is now a conversation that we are having. That does not mean it does not make me upset to see the countless lives lost, the pain and grief that comes with that, the social isolation, trauma, depression, and anxiety rates rising at alarming rates; however, it does mean is that we no longer need to hide these things, that these are now common topics of conversation that need to be had.
I am proud to be a part of GMRI, and that we are trying to help people and give them more options.
I have learned to be grateful. I have learned the importance of self-care even if it may seem selfish. I have learned patience. I have learned to listen and understand.
But most importantly, I have learned I want to do more to help this crisis. I want to be a part of a bigger change for all.
What needs to be done:
More research. I work on clinical trials for central nervous system disorders. I have worked in research for almost 11 years. I have been involved in the advancement of medications and treatments for multiple psychiatric disorders. I've made relationships with advocacy groups to help educate why research within the mental health population is important and a care option for individuals who may have no other access to care.
Untreated mental illness is growing and there is little urgency to help. Only with this type of research (scientific, evidence-based), can we hope to find new advancements, treatments and/or cures for these illnesses. Supporting clinical research within the mental health population will allow us to continue the advancement of medicine and find new ways to treat or even cure these illnesses.
Who can help:
Anyone and everyone. Whether you live with mental illness, whether you are affected by mental illness, care for someone with mental illness, or just want to learn more about mental illness and the care options.
How do we help:
Support and promote research. Partner with your local advocacy groups (National Alliance for Mental Illness [NAMI], Mental Health America [MHA], etc.) and learn. Spread awareness, use your social media platforms to open conversations surrounding mental health and continuing research in the field. Support your peers. Ask questions. Learn about what it is like to live with mental illness. Listen and hear.
I am thankful for what has come out of this pandemic, or at least started to. I am thankful that we are discussing mental health and I am hopeful with continued discussions, support, and Research we will be able to get on top of this “crisis” and continue to educate, train and advance conversations and treatments related to mental health.
To learn more about clinical trials and/or participate, please visit: Green Mountain Research Institute