(ABC4 Utah) May is Mental Health Awareness Month and is a good time to refocus on mental well-being. 

The mental health effects from the COVID-19 pandemic are profound and likely to increase over time. The pandemic has been associated with uncertainty, school closures, shutdowns, social isolation, and economic vulnerability—stressors that can be linked to mental health concerns. COVID-19’s mental health consequences are likely to be present for longer and peak later than the actual pandemic.

Then add the war in Ukraine, economic downturns, racial injustices, and political unrest, just to name a few, and what we have all encountered are moments that challenge our mental health and require a renewed focus on mental well-being. 

Research has studied the effect of large-scale traumas and disasters on communities. Not only has this pandemic caused mental health challenges for many of us, but we have also been given the opportunity to practice and develop our resilience. 

Some people think of resilience as a trait one is born with (hardiness) or an outcome (presence of post-traumatic stress or growth), but in fact, resilience can be taught, learned and strengthened. 

“Resilience is neither lucky nor passive and one must take an intentional focus on developing and strengthening this important skill. Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity,” said Mason Turner, MD, senior medical director of behavioral health for Intermountain Healthcare.

“When we get far enough past an adversity to look back with perspective, we can consider its effects on our lives and identities, reflect on the skills we developed, the actions we took, the lessons we learned, and the reasons we kept going,” he added.

Asking ourselves “what do I do when times get hard?” or “where do I derive the force to make it through tough times?” reminds us of our personal skills and characteristics that we can use, said Dr. Turner.

The question: “Who helps me when times get hard and who can I help?” address our social supports and sense of connection.  Finally, asking ourselves “Who do I want to be when this is over and what will it have meant for me?” helps us to focus on a sense of meaning and purpose. 

“Think of resilience like a balance scale where negative experiences tip the scale towards negative outcomes, positive experiences towards positive outcomes. Resilience adds a weight to the positive side to keep our lives in balance or even tip toward the positive in the face of very negative experiences,” said Dr. Turner.

“The COVID pandemic is not over, yet vaccines provide us a bright light at the end of this tunnel. Until then, we need to be deliberate about navigating the middle of the resilience process, the part between getting through and looking back. We will do this by harnessing resources that work for us based on our individual and community needs,” Dr. Turner added.

If you want to speak to someone, you can call Intermountain Healthcare Behavioral Health Navigation Line at 833-442-2211. The hotline is a new service provided by Intermountain and designed to help the community find the resources that they need.

The Intermountain Healthcare Behavioral Health Navigation services is a singular phone number where you can call in and speak with caregivers in our organization to be directed to the right service, and as needed scheduled with an appointment, or referred to Intermountain’s Behavioral Health Connect Care, which is a new service virtual service working to address needs for people or the loved ones in real time.

For more information, visit The Intermountain Healthcare Website.

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