Feeling down? You’re not alone.

In fact, one in five adults experience mental illness every year, a statistic only exacerbated by COVID-19. Help and hope are available.

According to a National Alliance on Mental Illness poll in February 2021, 33.8% of adults in Nebraska reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, with more than half of Americans reporting that COVID-19 had a negative impact on their mental health.

NAMI estimates that at least 257,000 adults in Nebraska currently have a mental health condition, which equates to about 18% of the state’s adult population of approximately 1.45 million, according to 2020 census figures.

Although many people today understand that mental illness is a medical condition, there are too many stigmas and misunderstandings surrounding mental health conditions, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“There is no health without mental health,” said Sheri Dawson, director of the DHHS Division of Behavioral Health, noting that 50% of chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% by age 24. “I ask that all Nebraskans take a minute and start a conversation about mental health. Seeking help for your mental health should be just as natural as reaching out to your doctor for a physical illness.”

Dawson urges people to improve the awareness of mental health and overcome stigma. Awareness starts with educating and informing yourself, as well as your family and friends, to start that discussion and normalize the subject.

“You are not alone, there is hope and help,” she said.

Mental health treatment can improve your overall health, promote strength when faced with challenges, and help you reach your full health potential. Some individuals may also benefit from exploring medications shown to be effective for their conditions.

Reach out and seek help and speak to trusted friends and family. Tell them how they can support you on your journey to recovery. And don’t forget to practice self-care. Strategies include surrounding yourself with supportive family and friends, participating in hobbies you have always enjoyed, going for a walk, or watching a favorite movie or TV show. And remember that recovery is always a personal journey. There will be ups and downs, but as long as you stay with it, things can and do get better.

Need to talk or get help in a crisis?

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline, (888) 866-8660.  They can engage Crisis Response Teams
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español), or text TalkWithUs for English or llámanos para español to 66746.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116.

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