Mental Health Awareness Month takes place in May, making this month an opportune time to focus on aspects of mental health that are most related to addiction and the importance of identifying these conditions while addressing and treating substance use disorder. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to focus on mental health awareness and take extra steps to ensure those in treatment and recovery are able to adjust their progress and goals to fit current stay-at-home guidelines.
Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder
Dual diagnosis of mental illness and addiction are common among many patients active in treatment or in long-term recovery. Still, with the added stressors of a worldwide pandemic, it may be harder for some to cope with their recovery journey. Some people who have not previously linked their drug use to past trauma may find themselves struggling during this unprecedented time in recent history. There are some helpful ways to help ease the anxieties and pressures of these uncertain times, especially for patients who are adjusting their treatment schedules.
A sudden shift in schedule and daily routine can leave people feeling stranded and alone, especially when adhering to social distancing guidelines. That’s why those in treatment and recovery need to take time and pause, use breathing exercises, and pay attention to how they are feeling.
With everyone being advised to stay at home, this is leading to an overwhelming exposure to media related to the COVID-19 content. With the harrowing nature of the virus and the constantly updated tally of the victims affected, it can lead many to feel hopeless and discouraged. Taking breaks from the news and social media is a vital step for self-preservation, especially for those who suffer from anxiety and depression.
There are pressures to feel productive while staying at home, along with feelings of isolation, which can feel chaotic. Taking time for sleep, exercise, and meditation is not just vital for relaxation, but it can help stave away reactions to triggers that can potentially lead to relapse.
Patients who are struggling with isolation and current social distancing measure are urged to reach out to their providers. Loneliness, anxiety, and fear are very triggering emotions to experience, and even more so on a global scale during COVID-19 precautions.
Though patients may not be able to adhere to their previous schedule and travel to their counseling sessions or clinic daily during this time, telehealth has made it possible for those who need to speak with someone to reach out and converse with a professional about their concerns.
Making mental health awareness a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic is a way for patients in treatment and recovery to overcome the psychological challenges of recovery while also living through a worldwide pandemic. Mental health is just as important as physical health during this time as the world looks forward to overcoming the hardships of coronavirus and resulting measures being taken to preserve safety and wellness.