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LMH social worker draws attention to Mental Health Awareness Month
Pharos-Tribune - 5/27/2022
May 27—May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and licensed clinical social worker Meg Murray said mental health should be at the forefront of people's minds. As part of the family medicine team at Logansport Memorial Hospital, Murray said she seen an unnecessary stigma around seeking help for mental health.
"I personally think that people who go and seek professional counseling have personal strength. That's a resilience factor," Murray said. "A lot of people think that seeking counseling is a sign of weakness or something is wrong with you. I actually think it's a sign of personal strength."
According to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, more commonly known as KFF, nearly 28.6 percent of adults in Indiana reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression from Sept. 29 to Oct. 11 in 2021.
KFF also found that in 2019, nearly one in 10 adults in the United States reported symptoms of anxiety, depression or both. After the pandemic began, the number of adults reporting anxiety and/or depression symptoms jumped to one in three. That statistic has held steady since May 2020.
COVID-19 has affected people's lives in many different ways. Murray said the pandemic completely changed everyone's routines and continues to impact people's mental health.
"It definitely was not our status quo," she said. "We weren't getting the same social engagement. Our work days looked completely different. Even the apprehension of going out, the fear of getting ill, going through the loss of loved ones or family due to COVID, or just the stress of being sick and having symptoms for a longer time definitely increased depression and anxiety."
She mentioned that substance abuse has increased because people often use drugs, alcohol and other addictions to self-medicate.
Murray said trauma, loss and addiction are not the only reasons to seek therapy, and even people who had happy childhoods, have stable relationships and do not suffer from mental illness can benefit from counseling.
"You get to talk to an objective person that also has professional training who can look at your situation through a different perspective than friends or family," she said. "We're able to point out thinking patterns that people have that may not be accurate. They may be more negative, and we typically bring to light more positives and use a person's personal strength to build on."
Murray said people should consider therapy if they notice that they have lost interest in activities they normally enjoy, struggle to find motivation, notice significant changes in their personal habits like sleeping or eating more or less, notice they are running out of medication before they are due for refills, or have family and friends who encourage them to seek help.
She said anyone considering therapy can also speak with their primary care provider.
"Please do not wait right until you're in full-blown crisis, completely overwhelmed, or your daily function has changed for a long period of time, meaning more than two or three weeks," Murray said.
Andria Land, a licensed social worker who works in LMPN Pediatrics, echoed Murray's sentiment in a Logansport Memorial Hospital Facebook post about Mental Health Awareness Month.
"Some people feel as though they should be able to control their mental health problems on their own," Land wrote. "I wish people knew that therapy can be beneficial in many ways. Not seeking help when you need it can eventually cause more problems."
In addition to the three therapists at Logansport Memorial Hospital, Four County Counseling Center also provides therapy options and a mobile crisis team. To reach Four County's 24-hour crisis line people can call 800-552-3106 or text 741-741.
Murray also noted that some local churches provide pastoral counseling. Anyone interested in additional resources can also check Logansport Memorial Hospital's website.
"Every person out there needs to know you are valued, you are important and you are absolutely worthy of asking for support," Murray said. "You have a purpose every day, right here, and all of us in the helping profession would be honored to support you in your journey."
(c)2022 the Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Ind.)
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