Mental Health in these Troubling Times

By Ralph D. Shay, NIPA Volunteer



Right now, life is turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on all of us. It is especially important to be aware every day how each of us is coping with our personal, emotional, and spiritual impression upon ourselves and expression toward the people we come in contact with in our homes, neighborhoods, and community.


I take time to contemplate my attitude, feelings, and environment daily, sometimes minute to minute. I take extra time to acknowledge my feelings with my spouse, with friends, using interpersonal engagement, telephone contacts, and simple acts such as waving at people as I pass by them while walking. These acts seem to uplift me and give me solace that I am not alone during these difficult times and I can reach out to others, showing empathy and caring for others.


By looking towards others - family, friends, engaging with community members - I have found that it is invaluable to observe how our partners, children, and grandchildren are responding towards me and remember they are also significantly affected by these challenging times. Being vigilant and empathetic towards others, their expression of self, sharing of myself, all contribute to a safer environment for others.


So, what can each of us do to keep ourselves safe, and others? We must be aware of how others are responding and reacting to the environment around them. If you, or I, notice anything amiss with a family member, friend, or a person you meet in the community…a word spoken, a reaction to another human being or situation, it is most important to ask if that person is feeling safe right now. 


And if you, or I, suspect the person is having difficulty, respect them by offering help, calling for help, or staying with them for as much time as it takes and not accept their minimization or rationalization of the moment. You may be called reactionary. Or be told to mind your own business. This is not the time to ignore what we see or feel.


In closing, please stay safe, take time to consider others, and be more aware of our surroundings during these challenging times. Thank you for considering yourself an important part of our safety.



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