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It has been a long while since I have checked in or written anything here. Like everyone, a lot has been happening in my life. I like to say things come at us at the speed of life and it is certainly true for me, too. Since I have last checked in the 2022 report on the “State of Mental Health in America” came out. The increased stress, unmet mental health needs among us have skyrocketed in the past year (see the image below). My practice has certainly felt the increased demand. However, when I start with reflecting on the many blessings I am grateful for my relationships, good health, triumphantly surviving a panoply of life experiences, meaningful work, healthcare access, safety, opportunities . . . I feel peace and joy that surpasses understanding. This morning I was reminded of what Paul wrote to the church at Philippi from his prison cell.
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4–9).”
When I remember to check in with myself and practice gratitude for my blessings, to remember the myriad trials that God has brought me through, the ways that He has and continues to protect me and provide for me, it quiets my mind, gives me peace, contentment, and faith that I’ll be OK no matter what comes. Let’s face it when stressors arise as we have faced since 01/2020 we can all struggle to pause and practice self-care activities such as gratitude, good nutrition, sleep, work-life balance, staying connected to friends, exercise, etc. We all need professional help sometimes. I utilize professional services to help me maintain my property, my physical health, my behavioral, relational & mental health, my finances when legal or real estate transactions arise & to prepare my taxes. Many people I talk to suffer long and intensely because access is poor, or there is a stigma about accessing help for mental health. Among the 50 States, North Carolina ranks 12th 19.31%, 1,532,000 adults having a mental illness (not a substance use disorder). Among the 50 States, North Carolina ranks 7.26%, 576,000 adults with a substance use disorder. It is clear that help is needed among the population of our state yet many suffer in silence. Access is a problem as there are not enough providers to meet the demand. The state rate of mental health workforce ranges from 150:1 (MA) to 920:1 (AL). North Carolina ranked 27th at 390:1.
In May, licensed clinical mental health counselors like Dr. Giordano join the national movement to raise awareness about mental health. Established in 1949, Mental Health Month sought to highlight the significance of mental health and wellness. Each year we continue to battle the stigma associated with mental health, provide support for those with mental illness, and through our professional associations, we advocate for policies on behalf of those with mental illness and their loved ones.
While 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness over the course of their lifetimes, everyone will face challenges that can and will affect their mental health. Licensed clinical mental health counselors (LCMHC) play a critical role in providing care and guidance for those suffering from mental illness. Dr. Giordano and LCMHCs across the country are dedicated to assisting people struggling with mental health.
This year, my guiding phrase is work less, live more, so my slogan for Mental Health Month is #begentlewithyourself. Please join my colleagues and me as we highlight the significance of mental health awareness and how counselors can help!