Letter: Let’s normalize mental health by talking about it

<p><strong>To the Editor:</strong></p><p>This past year presented so many different challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency.</p><p>The global pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined, and a lot of us struggled with our mental health as a result. The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of individuals and our community.</p><p>Now, more than ever, our community needs to combat the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. That’s why this May during Mental Health Month, Upstream Prevention, Inc. is highlighting #Tools2Thrive.</p><p>Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. During the month of May, Upstream will be focusing on different topics to help process the events of the past year and the feelings that surround them, while also building up skills and supports that extend beyond COVID-19. This includes topics such as managing anger and frustration, recognizing when trauma may be affecting your mental health, challenging negative thinking patterns and making time to take care of yourself.</p><p>It’s important to remember that working on your mental health and finding tools that help each person thrive takes time. Change won’t happen overnight. Instead, by focusing on small changes, each of us can move through the stressors of the past year and develop long-term strategies that are supportive on an ongoing basis.</p><p>A great starting point for anyone who is ready to start prioritizing their mental health is to take a mental health screening at MHAscreening.org. It’s a quick, free and confidential way for someone to assess their mental health and begin finding hope and healing.</p><p>By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it is possible to find balance between life’s ups and downs and continue to cope with the challenges brought on by the pandemic.</p><p>It is normalizing mental health, and talking about it, that contributes to breaking down the stigma of mental health that has existed. We all deserve to take care of and seek treatment for our mental health if struggling, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.</p><p><p><strong>Hope Thompson</strong></p><p><p><strong>Upstream Prevention, Inc.</strong></p><p><p><strong>Greenwood</strong></p>