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Category: Mental Health

We are not in the same boat

Sometimes we need a perspective shift. A perspective shift means looking at things differently and opening up to new ways of understanding and seeing the world. It helps us gain a deeper and more enriched understanding of different aspects of life. It can also help us see how using a phrase like “We’re all in the same boat” might not be the best way to respond when people face a challenge.

Lingering effects of the pandemic

Nobody wants to dwell on the COVID-19 pandemic, but its lingering effects persist, affecting our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Delaware’s air quality has deteriorated due to smoke originating from wildfires in Canada. Consequently, individuals who never experienced breathing difficulties before COVID-19 find themselves struggling.

Furthermore, numerous young people endured years of hybrid or fully remote learning, resulting in disconnection from their peers and educators. We cannot underestimate the impact of isolation on mental health and productivity. Although our brains possess remarkable adaptability, transitioning can be challenging, particularly for those still developing cognitive reasoning and shaping identities. 

Researchers supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) conducted a small study with 64 teenagers between 13 and 17 years old. They discovered that the brains of these teenagers appeared to have undergone an average aging effect of approximately 3 years during a 10-month period of time. “This effect mirrors what is known to happen in teen brains after they are exposed to adversity or traumatic events.”

It’s tempting to declare that the pandemic is behind us and move forward, perhaps even forgetting about it. However, our world has undergone profound changes since the pre-COVID era, making forgetting an unrealistic option. Instead, we must recognize the transformations and be willing to adapt, evolve, and exhibit compassion towards ourselves and others, fostering patience and support.

Acknowledging individual differences

In life, we come across many common expressions, including the phrase “We’re all in the same boat,” often used when facing difficult situations.

Typically, this cliché emerges during times of adversity when a person in a leadership position seeks to reassure others that a collective effort will enable them to overcome the ordeal together. While the speaker’s intention behind employing this analogy is generally courteous, it is important to acknowledge that, in reality, each individual possesses their own unique circumstances and experiences, resulting in significantly diverse “boats.” 

While we may be navigating similar waters, the conditions and resources available to us are different. Just as people in different boats may face distinct challenges such as rough seas, strong currents, or limited supplies, individuals encounter diverse obstacles, advantages, and disadvantages based on their backgrounds, socio-economic status, education, upbringing, and personal circumstances.

Navigating challenges with awareness

Let’s face the fact that our boats are different. Solutions or approaches that work for one person may not be universally applicable. So, even when we might be facing similar challenges, our circumstances can be very different. It’s worth keeping this in mind as we navigate the stormy seas together.
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Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949. Nearly one in five Americans live with a mental health condition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

When thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion issues, mental health might not always be top of mind. However, a recent Forbes article stated, “Employees from diverse backgrounds can face a lack of representation, micro-aggressions, unconscious bias, and other stressors that impact their mental health and psychological safety at work.”

As we take this month to raise awareness, it is important to recognize that stigma can be a barrier to talking about this issue, especially in the workplace. Beth Markley is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Markley said employers play the most important role in supporting people’s mental health needs. Companies and managers should provide employee assistance benefits and give employees time off when caring for someone dealing with a mental health issue.

Mental health is as important as physical health. It’s important for supervisors and members of leadership to let their employees know that sick days are available to use for all kinds of family medical and health issues, including mental health.

Practicing Self-Care

Practicing self-care does not mean you are choosing yourself over your loved ones. It means that you are simply being mindful of your own needs, so you are better able to support the people you care about. When mindful of your needs, you can better support the people you care about.

Annette March-Grier is a 2014 CNN Hero and the founder of Roberta’s House, a bereavement center in Baltimore, Maryland. March-Grier stresses the importance of putting yourself first to enhance mental well-being.

Everyone is looking for some kind of balance, yet few are finding it. Your state of mind is where it all begins. Make self-care a priority for your mental wellness. “Self-care is not selfish.” It is a truth that if you don’t take care of yourself, you will have nothing to give others. This includes healthy relationships that can be jeopardized because of stress, burnout, and lack of self-care. Your physical health is also connected to your mental health. Negative thoughts and suppression of these can overtime lead to disease.

Annette March-Grier

Upcoming Event

Mental Health First Aid

In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Beebe HealthCare is partnering with the University of Delaware to offer free Mental Health First Aid training. 

May 18, 2023, OR June 16, 2023, online with 2-hour pre-work and 9:00-3:30 via Zoom

Registration is limited, so please register early. Register here.

Resources at the University of Delaware

2023 Mental Health Month Toolkit

This #MentalHealthMonth, Mental Health America invites you to #LookAroundLookWithin to learn how your surroundings impact mental health. Learn more:

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