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Resolving to improve mental health in the new year


MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – The new year usually comes with a bevy of resolutions that consist of dreams for a better physical regiment, carefully guided eating habits and overall improvements in physical health, but following 2020, a far more essential resolution to consider is one that includes strides in mental health.

Over the course of 2020, the Center for Disease Control tracked massive leaps in reported mental health problems that include anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. CDC studies found that 40% of people in the U.S. say they are fighting at least one mental health problem, a number the National Alliance on Mental Illness put at 20% in 2019. The CDC also reported a massive spike in specifically in young adults, rising to 75% saying they battle at least one type of mental illness.

Contemplation of suicide is also on the rise in 2020. The CDC reported a jump from 10.5% in 2018 to 25.5% in 2020 among young adults ( 18-24) and a jump from 4.3% to 11% across all ages.

The existential rise in just one year is something therapists and counseling specialists are battling daily, across the country and right here in Madison.

“There are a lot more people looking for help with their mental health this year,” said Scott Kalin, a therapist and counselor for Provenance Counseling.

Kalin is one of the many specialists trying to help the growing number of people fighting for their mental health. He says a few of the reasons numbers are on the rise is a lack of social contact and the inability to push through the struggles of 2020 (like the pandemic), creating a feeling of isolation.

“You can spot anxiety or depression a few ways,” Said Kalin. “If you little things make you angry more than normal, if you are moving faster than normal, not giving yourself and personal time or breaks but moving to the next thing immediately, another sign is if you are experiencing less joy from fun events in life.”

But there are methods to adopt in the new year, that can help you battle anxiety and depression. Kalin says a crucial thing is consistency — having a plan for each day and seeing it through. Another is taking a moment to refocus and reset your mind whenever you feel overwhelmed or not yourself. He teaches clients to tap their toes three times, then their heels, before taking three deep breathes. This is a way to clear your head and becoming mindful of yourself and your surroundings. Simple things like these are ways to help fight anxiety throughout the day.

Kalin also recommended some comping methods for young adults, a group the CDC reports is experiencing more mental health problems than any other age range. Kalin says a big reason young adults are struggling with mental health is because of what a developmental time ages 18 to 24 are — ages young adults find who they are as people. That personal growth has been thrown into chaos during the pandemic, but there are a few things young adults can do to fight mental illness.

Finding ways to get more connection, whether connecting with yourself and your emotions and feeling out where you are a person or connecting with friends (even if that’s virtual) go a long way. Another method: Planning for events and activities to reach for after the pandemic, offering a self-made light at the end of the tunnel.

It is important to remember that it is healthy to take on the improvement of your mental health each day, but for people with more severe cases of mental health problems, reach out to a professional for help.

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.


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