Reach out for help, say survivors of mental health illness

Charlie Olsen, a outgoing seventh grade student, loved socializing and being around his friends. But when the pandemic hit, everything changed. Like most children of his generation, his world quickly became smaller and more isolated.

He felt down all the time. He had a stomach ache and fell asleep sobbing. Even their joints ache.

After Charlie’s parents take him to specialists to rule him out of any physical condition, Charlie is diagnosed with situational depression. She said that talking about her emotional state and mental health made her feel better.

Even though the stigma around mental illness has decreased, many people still feel uncomfortable discussing their feelings and what they’re going through. But not Charlie. He sees no difference in discussing one’s physical and mental health.

“If I fell and scraped my knee, I wouldn’t be ashamed to talk about it,” he said. “Mental health is something you need to talk about because it can help.”

Mental health challenges have increased since the start of the pandemic, ranging from anxiety and depression to high rates of suicide among young people in the state.

People like Charlie — who got the help they needed after reaching out to their parents — want to use their own experiences to help others and help others inside homes, doctor’s offices and businesses, and state houses. want to improve the discussion about mental health within

Yet, despite a statewide campaign to encourage people to discuss mental health, the implementation of a new 988 suicide and crisis hotline, a statewide suicide prevention plan and millions of state dollars spent to improve mental health services Despite the trend, suicide remains a growing problem. granite State.

Suicide is still the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 34 in New Hampshire.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “The suicide rate in the United States continues to rise, despite the fact that more efforts are being made to prevent suicide today than at any other time in history.”

This weekend, the Suicide Prevention Foundation held an annual event for survivors of suicide loss to come together and find connection, understanding, and hope through their shared experiences. Celebrated every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving because the holiday season is a difficult time for survivors.

‘depends on support’

What Charlie didn’t realize at first is that many people are reluctant to seek mental health help because they are too embarrassed to talk about it.

Charlie, who was elected as the state’s Kid Governor in 2021, has since tried to help children who are facing depression. Collaborating with the New Hampshire chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness to combat stigma, he constantly stresses the message that “you don’t have to do this alone.”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2022 Kids Count Data Book reports that children in New Hampshire and across the country are dealing with anxiety and depression at unprecedented levels.

From 14.4% in 2016 to 18.4% in 2020, children aged 3 to 17 reported symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Living with COVID-19 for two years has pushed people into a “new normal” marked by anxiety, uncertainty and isolation. As a result, mental stress increased.

However, it brought with it a disguised benefit: The mental health dialogue evolved.

As more people sought treatment, the conversation on mental health became more open.

But, conversations about mental health typically focus on preventing suicide and addressing depression and anxiety. Suicide survivors often struggle to find ways to recover.

Alexa Felix, a case manager at a mental health center in Greater Manchester, is drawing on her personal experience to help those who have lost someone to suicide.

During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, Felix lost his father to suicide. He called her “the heart of my life”.

“We loved watching the New England Patriots together and getting Dunkin’ Donuts,” Felix said. “That was our thing.”

When Felix mourns her father’s passing, she goes through a range of emotions. She questioned whether she could have done more to change the situation.

“Leaning on support, realizing you’re not alone, and practicing self-compassion helped me,” she said.

Go at the other person’s pace, Felix advises those who are supporting someone with mental health issues or a lived experience.

“Let them lead the conversation, yelling, screaming, crying or whatever it is,” Felix said. “Just with an open mind and understanding that you probably won’t have solutions or answers, but just have to be there.”

not complete set

Ellen De Mello, director of Suicide Prevention Services at the National Alliance on Mental Illness NH, has worked in the mental health profession in New Hampshire for more than four decades and has seen an increase in calls to the helpline since the pandemic began.

De Mello believes years of efforts by mental health organizations and the CDC on suicide prevention and encouraging people to call for help during the pandemic paid off. On the other hand, she said the historically labor-short mental health industry has been made worse by the pandemic’s increased demand for mental health services.

“We have an effective treatment, but we need to support that association, we need to fund it,” De Mello said. “We don’t fund research, treatment and programs for mental health in the same way that we do for other serious conditions like heart disease and cancer.”

Although meeting with a mental health specialist may take some time, Felix and De Mello say there are alternative ways to manage mental health difficulties.

■Join support groups.

■Contact for peer support.

■Explore online medical options.

■Contact Helpline.

Support groups and activities to raise awareness of mental health during Felix’s efforts gave him a sense of validation and helped him honor his father’s memory.

Felix asks anyone who is facing mental health issues to “do some research, but do it on your own time, and do what you’re comfortable with.” “You need to focus on what you can control,” as opposed to external factors.

if you need help

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free and confidential support for people in crisis, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

Veteran: Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online, or text 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Assistance is available for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Distress Text Line: Free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. To text a trained crisis counselor, text 741741 from anywhere in the US.

Trans Lifeline: Call 1-877-565-8860 for a hotline run by transgender people for transgender people. Trans Lifeline volunteers are on hand to respond to whatever support community members may need.

Disaster Crisis Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990 for a 24/7 national hotline dedicated to providing crisis counseling for anyone experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.

Trevor Project: A national 24-hour, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth. If you are a young person in crisis, having thoughts of suicide, or need a safe and judgment-free space to talk, call 1-866-488-7386.

National LGBT Support Center: Call 1-888-843-4564. Open to callers of all ages. Provides peer counselling, information and local resources.

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