Hello My Beautiful Souls,
Welcome to the end of September, where the colors of Fall begin to culminate in flavors of pumpkin spice, dark chocolate caramels, apple pies, and hot apple cider. My hope is we are blooming where we are in shades of fall festive colors that gravitate towards the sounds of music, fish boils, and weekend travels. Our final days of water sports, bon fires and S’Mores may be quickly subsiding due to Autumn weather crawling in. Enjoy the warmth while it’s here…
There is nothing more gratifying than holistic healing after summer’s fierce warmth and humid glow. It’s like an architect designing your sanctuary dream home from within. For it to have a foundation, it must be eloquently threaded together with the stardust of God’s brilliance that blankets us in self-love. There is an overflowing gentleness that breezes through the woven threads of our souls’ divinity sublime.
This sacred place is brushed by the wings of angels whose feathers of gentleness color and shape the walls of our mindsets with positivity, glow, and morsels of self-care. We are drawn inward to the warmth of the flame that waits for us to ignite its light. What we seek is seeking us with grace, mercy, and joy beyond imagination. Let the flame that sizzles within consume us with shine, imagination, and a higher consciousness for healing and recovery. Let them glow, grow, blossom, and expand exponentially! We are beauty in the making…
We are created from God’s sacrificial gift, His only Son, to heal the shattered glass of our souls so light can shine through. Our tears become His as He washes us as white as snow. He formed us out of stardust with His breath of pure love. He created us to perfection so every molecular organism and organ functions symbiotically to maintain a homeostasis so magnificent we have yet to comprehend its perfection.
The systemic processes in our body’s organs work seamlessly to keep it healthy so our circulatory systems can maintain the flow of oxygen to the lungs. They inhale and exhale oxygen and intrinsically pump blood through our hearts and veins.
The nervous system is the body’s dictator. It controls the body’s processes, reactions, movements, thoughts, emotions, and nerve centers. The neurobiological system in our brains is to comprehend its microanatomy and how it controls our behaviors, emotions, and cognitions. The brain is still a great mystery today. Any disconnect of the pathways can cause disruption and discord which can lead to mental health disorders. It’s the only tissue that isn’t fed directly through contact with blood.
The circulatory and digestive systems in combination to provide nutrients throughout the body. The digestive system carries away carbon dioxide and other waste products from the organs. The circulatory system maintains the blood flow and pressure range to the heart, blood vessels, and blood itself.
The lymphatic system’s role is to maintain our immunity, digestion, and blood pressure by moving fluid to circulate vital cells that fight disease.
So why, you might ask, is our mental health skyrocketing out of control with suicide, depression, and PTSD? If we function like clockwork, what has happened to our perfectly functioning bodies that has caused such distress, depression, and anxiety?
Part of the answer is embedded in the alarming volatility and proportions our mental health has reached in our nation since the pandemic. This is among the youth, older adults, service providers, elderly, veterans, and the disabled. America has collapsed from the continued isolation, transitions from normal daily life, and the economic downfall causing vast unemployment, extreme food rations, and loss of shelter.
MENTAL HEALTH STATISTICS
Even though mental health issues were a great concern before the pandemic, the statistics showcase a vast scope of increased levels of psychological distress since the pandemic for our youth.
- Our youth of 18-24 year-olds carry the highest levels of depression wearing face masks outside their homes and avoiding others at public places since the beginning of the pandemic
- The COVID STATES Project reports that young adults 18-24 year-olds’ psychological anguish jumped from 24%, which is a trigger for referral or evaluation and treatment, to 44%, a diagnosis as moderate to severe depression.
- Despite returning to pre-pandemic rituals and norms, depression and anxiety among 18-24 year-olds has not declined with the improved economy.
- Young women are found to have increased amounts of stress, anxiety, depression than men.
According to the Pew Research Center Surveys completed in September 2022:
- Four in 10 adults (41%) have increased levels of mental affliction during the pandemic. Based on answers to surveys, 58% of 18-29 year-old young adults have suffered high levels of distress since the pandemic.
- Women are more likely than men to suffer higher psychological distress (48%-32%).
- Those in lower income households (53%) carry a higher burden of distress when compared to middle-class (38%) or upper-income families (30%).
- Approximately (66%) of disabled Americans or those with health conditions were prevented from accessing a quality professional and personal life, along with social activities, fitness, and independence. They, too, have faced increased levels of distress during and after the pandemic.
- The Center for Disease Control surveyed public and private high schools and found that 57% of girls and 76% of LGB students had the highest mental health challenges during the pandemic. They reported, “they felt sad or hopeless… for two weeks in a row…”
Studies by Harvard, Northwestern, Rutgers and Northeastern Universities between December 2022 and January 2023 on 25,000 U.S. adults on mental health revealed Americans are still under siege by depression. That is 8% higher or three times greater than before the pandemic.
It is important to mention that older adults 55 and above took a big hit 6-months into the pandemic. This is the first time in 50 years older adults had higher unemployment than their younger counter parts. These older adults did not choose to be unemployed. They did not choose to lose their health insurance and they certainly didn’t have a huge pension plan to live off of. These are middle class hard working Americans. (AARP.org)
- 9% of older workers were unemployed between March and April compared to workers 35-54 year old workers with only 8.9% unemployment.
- Older adults have been hired much slower mid-career workers (28% vs. 32% respectively).
- Thus older adults face higher job loss and for longer duration
- Older workers are 17% more likely to become unemployed than their younger counterparts.
- Many of the older adults who lost their jobs chose to retire early or leave the workforce involuntarily.
People More Susceptible To Mental Health Challenges
And not everyone was impacted equally by the pandemic. Although America’s mental health problems have increased exponentially since the pandemic, there are certain groups of outliers who were more heavily impacted:
- People in rural areas
- Pregnant mothers
- Racial and ethnic minority groups
- Children and young people
- People with disabilities
- People with mental illnesses or susceptible
- People with substance abuse problems
- Health care and Service workers
- First Responders
MENTAL HEALTH AT A GLANCE
In a recent Forbes article, Angeleena Francis, a licensed mental health counselor and executive director at AMFM Healthcare, a mental health treatment center in Seattle, explained how the pandemic has increased patient diagnoses of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. She credits this rise in rates to a culmination of increased mental health diagnoses to both the destigmatizing of mental illness and increased accessibility to comprehensive treatment.
Chronicity of Specific Mental Health Disorders
Across the U.S. individuals are affected by mental health conditions.
- Depression: 21M adults live with depression; 7M young people experience major depression; 2.5M young people deal with severe depression
- Anxiety: Generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder are common diagnosed mental health conditions affecting 5M adults
- PTSD: 12M adults live with post-traumatic stress disorder
- Bipolar disorder: 3.3M adults have bipolar disorder
- Schizophrenia: 1.5M adults have schizophrenia
Mental Health in the Criminal Justice System
People with serious mental health disorders are imprisoned in the U.S. at an estimate of 2 million annually. And women are twice as likely to be impacted as men. A clinical psychologist in Miami points out how incarceration may exacerbate pre-existing symptoms because they receive poor medical care and mental health treatment. As a result their mental health worsens over time.
Sixty-three percent of incarcerated individuals do not receive proper medical treatment. For non-white people, this type of diagnosis becomes a greater risk for solitary confinement, personal injury, and a longer sentence. With this escalates enhanced trauma and distress for depression, PTSD, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation.
Mental health services, programs, and medications remain a high priority in America for all people, especially for those populations who struggle for access to quality medical service such as low income, elderly, disabled, rural populations, and those populations of race and ethnicity who are outliers and are in need of emergency services.
Solutions for Mental Health and the Community
WE must be the solution to ease the pain and suffering of America’s mental health crisis. This issue is complex and layered with past trauma, loss, the lack of mental health care professionals, increased climate change, a broken healthcare system, and gun violence.
When we destigmatize mental health disorders, we begin to communicate and nurture connections instead of building wider chasms of divisiveness, fear, anger, and hopelessness. When we reach out to support people’s mental health distress instead of suppressing their cries for help, we share our gifts of compassion and love.
Each one of us is responsible for how we heal and recover from the tragedies that have happened to us. Yet, there are some who have become imprisoned by a broken mindset overpowered with depression, PTSD, desperation, isolation, and poverty. When we dig deep and choose to unclothe our victim mentality, we have the power to rise from victim to victor out of a mindset of darkness. People will gravitate towards us to help us heal to become light once again.
Statistics show how mental health has impacted our communities:
- 1 in 8 emergency visits are attributed to mental health or substance abuse disorder
- Depression and Bipolar disorders (Mood Disorders) enhance most hospitalizations for those 45 and under, controlling for pregnant mothers and childbirth
- Among those without shelter, 20.8% have a mental health condition
- Of those in juvenile detention, 70% have a mental health disorder
- The U.S. economy loses $193.2B in revenue from severe mental health conditions
One of the major issues that is being addressed in Congress by Bernie Sanders is the drafting of legislation to increase the number of mental health providers to be placed in schools, communities, and wherever the need is greatest. They are seeking federal funding for mental health clinics so anyone, can receive free of charge, the comprehensive services necessary, including mental health. This is only one level of the problem.
To get at the root level of mental health disorders is to cut deep into the soul of our nation and discover what is poisoning the mindsets of those in power becoming corrupt, greedy, and manipulative for their own agenda and gain. It is like a cancer metastasizing through our political process, corrupting our democracy, morals, integrity, laws and budgets, and country’s priorities.
SEEKING THE LIGHT…
There is no quick fix for our nation’s medical care. Yet, there are strategies and practices we can effectively use in our own lives to be proactive to honor who we are and have a quality life of well being.
SELF-CARE: Practicing self-care ensures a lifestyle of well-being both mentally and physically. Carving time for meditation, tranquility and peace allows the mind to focus on positivity and joy. This is a critical aspect of keeping the mind, body, and spirit in harmony. Everything is interconnected within. Relaxation is key to the body’s holistic wellness system. It enhances the immune system, offers increased mental acuity, stable emotional well-being, and boosts physical energies.
1. Sleep. Get 8-10 hours of sleep a night. Keep a consistent bedtime schedule so your body’s circadian rhythm is habitually programmed to fall asleep at a certain time. Decrease time usage of computers and phones due to blue light, which makes it difficult to fall asleep.
2. Fitness. Get regular exercise to get your heart rate up to elevate your lungs, blood flow, and glow! Increase the time you exercise in small increments daily. Start small. You’ve got this!
3. Eat nutritiously. Ensure your diet is healthy, low or no sugar, fresh fruits and vegetables, grass fed beef, fish, chicken, turkey, non processed foods, olive oil, avocado oil, beans, nuts, milk products, soy products, no soft drinks, chemical sugars, etc. and drink lots of water!
4. Gratitude. Be thankful for your blessings everyday. Write them down. Pour them into your mind and let them marinate until they begin to transform your mindset to one of joy. There are 1000 joys!
5. Connections. If you have family and friends, reach out to them to support you emotionally, spiritually, and with compassion. Be gentle with yourself. And be careful with anger regarding your circumstances. When someone reaches out to you in kindness, do not shame them. Words have power and consequences.
6. Positivity. Focus on optimism. Challenge negative thinking and why they are creeping into your mindset. They sabotage the blessings you receive and put shadows where there is light.
7. Furry Friends. Cuddle up to your four-legged friends. Walk your pet, go running, cycling, hiking with your pets and enjoy the loyalty of your best paw friends. These sweet fur companions will always be there to lift your spirit, welcome you home, and bring a smile to your faces. They love you unconditionally.
My beautiful tribe, thank you for your patience in receiving my first blog of the year. As always, if you need assistance with mental health, a hand to hold, or someone to talk to, please let me know. You may contact me on my contact form.
October is here, where pumpkins are everywhere… Come sit with me awhile and share a pumpkin mocha latte or two. Fall in love with you…
Let the beauty of the moment be the rapture of elegance for the presence. Discover who you are right where you are and bloom… Love every morsel of you. You rise from the ashes into your own light. You claim your worth and become the magnificent creation of splendor. Don’t ever doubt how fabulous you are inside out. YOU are a miracle! Let the crown of glory be yours today and always….✨
In love and Light,
Dr. Kimberly Lees
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
If you have an emergency mental health crisis, please contact: MENTAL HEALTH HOTLINE: 988
OR seek help through the…
National Alliance on Mental Illness: Available Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET.
Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text “HelpLine” to 62640 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org