Making the most of mental health month
May. 17, 2023
By Katie Minor
May is Mental Health Month, which means it’s a great time to talk about all the different factors in our lives that affect our mental health. One thing that’s easy to fall victim to but hard to break? Substance abuse — which also makes taking care of your mental health feel almost impossible.
Sometimes, people dealing with mental health issues turn to substances as a way to cope with their emotions. But substance abuse pretty much always makes things worse, exacerbating existing mental health conditions or even stirring up new ones. It's a complicated dance, but we're here to untangle the knots.
It’s important to know what to look out for when it comes to taking care of your mental health and avoiding substance abuse. Some things to look out for include:
- Big mood swings
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Neglecting personal responsibilities
- Sudden changes in behavior or appearance
- Obsessing over using drugs or alcohol
If you or someone you know checks off these boxes, it's time to reach out for a helping hand.
The Monongalia County Quick Response Team (QRT) is all about providing help to people struggling with substance misuse. The QRT has a goal to meet with anyone who overdoses within 72 hours to make sure they can be connected to treatment and other services they might need.
Of course, you shouldn’t wait till substance abuse turns into an overdose before seeking help.
Substance abuse affects more than just the person who is using – it can also make a lasting impact on their friends and family. If you’ve lost a loved one to substance abuse, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. The QRT has a grief support group that meets every first and third Monday at Sabra United Methodist Church. It’s from 7-8:30 p.m. and all are welcome. Just look for the yellow door.
Utilizing community resources like counseling and support groups can make a huge difference when it comes to caring for yourself. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two great places to start, both of which will connect you with other people struggling with substance misuse. Building a community like this can do wonders for a recovery or mental health journey.
MCHD knows that in order for anyone to recover from substance abuse and improve their mental health, they need to stay alive. That’s why we’re proud to distribute naloxone, a literal life-saving tool that anyone can use to reverse opioid overdoses. The QRT will even train you or a group on how to use this tool, so you’ll be a real-life hero in emergency situations.
You can stop by Monongalia County Health Department during our normal hours to pick up two kits of naloxone. Interested in getting you or your team trained for naloxone? Reach out to Joe Klass, assistant QRT coordinator, at email@example.com or by calling 304-225-0264.
It’s no secret that there’s lots of stigma surrounding naloxone, substance abuse and mental health alike. It makes it feel embarrassing or even impossible to reach out and get help. Just remember, getting help is nothing to be ashamed of.
Overcoming addiction is no easy feat, so don’t feel like you have to do it alone. By addressing those underlying mental health issues, you can kick substance abuse to the curb and enjoy lasting well-being.
When Mental Health Month comes to an end this year, I want to remind you that dealing with your mental health is something that takes effort every single day. It’s okay — even normal — to slip up sometimes. The important thing is that you start every day trying to be better than you were yesterday. MCHD and the QRT are here to help with your mental health journey!
Katie Minor is the Public Information Assistant at Monongalia County Health Department.