After a year that tested all of us in many ways, personally and as a nation, mental health struggles have skyrocketed. For our neighbors who were already having a hard time making ends meet, they’re experiencing new levels of stress, anxiety and challenges as they are trying to feed their families.
As the first-ever of its kind, Mental Health Action Day is bringing together more than 1,000 leading brands, nonprofits, government agencies and cultural leaders to invite friends and followers to take action on Thursday, May 20th.
What is Mental Health Action Day?
MHA Day was created to move people from awareness to action. We know that the pandemic has created new issues for millions and exacerbated challenges for millions more. However, many of these people don’t know what tangible actions they can take for themselves or their loved ones. In a moment when the economy is beginning to re-open after a year of a once-in-a-generation pandemic, the global community of nonprofits, companies, government agencies, and influencers, need to support people in taking the first action for their mental health.
Why is the Foodbank Getting Involved?
Facing hunger can be stressful. Constantly worrying about where your next meal will come from can cause mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and even posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that mothers with school-aged children who face severe hunger are 56.2% more likely to have PTSD and 53.1% more likely to have severe depression. The inability to feed your loved ones can have traumatic effects on a person’s mental health.
We understand now more than ever the need to prioritize our emotional well-being, just like we care for our physical health. Taking these steps before we reach a moment of crisis is paramount, and that’s why Arkansas Foodbank is participating in Mental Health Action Day on behalf of our staff, volunteers, partners and those we serve.
Whether you’re participating for yourself, a family member or a neighbor who is facing hunger, the key is taking action. Here are some ways you can get started:
- Check in with yourself. As you navigate through the business of your day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself and not acknowledging your thoughts and feelings can be detrimental to your mental health. Mooditude, an app that offers data-drive, personalized mental health plans, is free for the entire month of May.
- Reach out to a friend. When you are struggling to care for your mental health, it can often feel isolating and the idea of talking to a loved one in your life about what you are experiencing can seem like a daunting task. But reaching out can make all the difference, as we all need support and encouragement as we navigate through difficult times.
- Get outside. Spending time in nature is a fantastic way to relieve stress and increase your energy. Plus, fresh air literally sends more oxygen to your brain, which can elevate your mood. You only need a few minutes to escape the daily grind and practice a bit of mindfulness.
- Research resources. Mental Health is Health is a website that has been created to provide resources and information about what actions you can take on May 20th.
- Consider volunteering at Arkansas Foodbank. According to new research, people become happier over time after they start volunteering. With the isolation that many experienced throughout the pandemic, stress and anxiety have resulted. But spending your time supporting an important cause can provide a boost in your mental health. Right now, the need is great and the Foodbank is welcoming back volunteers to help us sort, box and distribute food to our neighbors facing hunger. Sign up for a shift today: arkansasfoodbank.org/volunteer.
When it comes to our own mental health, sometimes the hardest action we can take is the very first one; like reaching out for the first time to a friend, walking into the first support group meeting, finding a therapist or calling a support line. Join your friends at the Foodbank and consider taking action, whether for yourself, your loved ones, or to advocate for systemic changes in the community around you.
If you have concerns about your or someone else’s mental health, please contact a medical professional or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a free, confidential conversation.