by Cory Docken, president-elect, MHSCN board of directors
Hello MHSCN members, I hope your summer is off to a great start. There is no doubt that this past year has been unlike any other and as things start to evolve back into a sense of normalcy, I want to reflect on some important things I learned during this trying time, in particular around the topic of mental health.
Being involved with the MHSCN board as well as having healthcare clients has given me a first-hand view of what healthcare marketers and communicators were dealing with this past year. I witnessed their roles descend into that of crisis communicators, often working double the hours, and with some of my close colleagues sleeping in their own offices. Some even pivoted to operational roles to help with the influx of patients. I couldn’t believe it. I want to give a huge shout-out to all those that work in clinics, hospitals, and health systems for everything you did and keep doing to help your organization get through an incredibly challenging time in history.
One thing is for certain: with trying times comes stress. If there is one thing we witnessed, it’s that the challenges of this last year pushed us to our limits, including with our mental well-being.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides the following mental health facts:
- Mental illnesses affect 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness.
- Examples of mental illnesses including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder.
- Mental illnesses can disrupt a person’s thinking, feelings, or mood.
- Mental illnesses may affect someone’s daily functioning or ability to relate to others.
- These illnesses are biological, affecting brain structure and chemistry, and have many causes, including genetics, the environment, and negative life experiences.
- Mental illnesses respond to a variety of treatments, however, early intervention is critical to aid in recovery.
Over this last year, I witnessed some clients ceasing operations, plenty of furloughs and it was very common for organizations to freeze spending on the marketing of products or services. It was a very uncertain time for business.
Facing these challenges and seeing my colleagues face similar challenges made me think about mental health more than ever. I found myself doing things like talking to my primary care provider about mental health for the first time, cranking up the bike rides, changing my diet, and checking in with friends and family members to ensure they were doing ok.
As things start to awaken and get back to normal, let’s not forget about our mental health. There will always be challenges in our life, maybe even another pandemic (hopefully not!). Talking about mental health and checking in on ourselves and others is something we can make a habit of doing. There are people who care and help is available. In addition to your primary care provider, NAMI Minnesota provides a great starting point for mental health resources.
I hope you all have a fantastic summer and take the time to enjoy yourself! Thank you for being a part of MHSCN.