Help is on the way
October 4, 2011
TAHOE, Calif. and#8212; Many people in our community are still feeling the effects of prolonged economic stagnation. Feelings of anxiety, depression, helplessness and hopelessness are common as people struggle to make ends meet and support their families. If you ask people to tell you about themselves, most often they will tell you what they do for a living. When they lose their jobs, they lose a big part of their identity. Those who have been unemployed for a long time often feel they are no longer worthwhile human beings; they may feel inadequate and unable to cope. Others are living in a constant state of panic as long-established businesses are closing and upside-down mortgages are draining their bank accounts. When you donand#8217;t know if you will be able to buy food or pay the rent, you fall into whatand#8217;s often called and#8220;survival mode.and#8221; In this state, people lose interest in the things they once enjoyed. They begin to withdraw from friends and family and relationships falter or fail. Anger at themselves for a situation they are unable to control can translate into anger at the world. Family members and friends are most often the recipients of this anger.
Mental health professionals at Tahoe Family Solutions have seen the number of people seeking mental health services almost double in the last two years. Even so, there is still a stigma attached to mental health. they often hear: and#8220;Iand#8217;ve never had to ask for help beforeand#8221; or and#8220;Iand#8217;m embarrassed to be here.and#8221; Many people feel asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure instead of a courageous step toward personal health.
Untreated physical ailments donand#8217;t go away and people donand#8217;t hesitate to seek a doctorand#8217;s help when sick. Untreated emotional ailments donand#8217;t go away either. Feelings of helplessness turn into feelings of hopelessness. Sadness leads to depression and withdrawal. Anxiety becomes panic. Over time these feelings become insurmountable and people give up.
There are resources in the community that can help. Talk to a friend or family member and encourage them to talk to you. If you belong to a religious organization, seek support in the congregation or pastor. Open up to your doctor or ask for the name of a good therapist. Be proactive in improving your own mental health. Be supportive when those around you want to do the same. In these times, the need for help can become critical. Essential mental health services are available and the access to them should be without judgment.
and#8212; Leslie L. Blunden, M.A., director of counseling/psychiatry and Patrick Keilty, M.F.T, marriage and family therapist from Tahoe Family Solutions, http://www.cciv.org