Articleon Mental Healthandthe Economy1009 by 6GRR8e58


									                            Mental Health and the Economy
                           By Roberta V. Sanders, BSN, MSW

         Most of us have heard this riddle—What’s the difference between a depression
and a recession? A recession is when your neighbor is out of work; a depression is
when you are out of work! While this has been told time and again to elicit laughter, our
nation’s current economic condition is no laughing matter. The state of the economy is
a serious issue and affects many aspects of our lives. A related question that should not
be overlooked is this: How does this country’s financial outlook affect our mental health?
The answer is no joke.
         The news we receive on a daily basis is continually clouded with difficult issues
and concerns. Job losses and cutbacks, home foreclosures, a plummeting stock
market, losses in 401K and other retirement accounts, financial difficulties at the federal,
state, county, and city level—we have heard the same litany of bad news and difficult
times. With Michigan’s unemployment rate at a dismal 15% and Detroit’s jobless rate at
a staggering 28%, we all understand that each of us has been dramatically touched by
this recession.
         It is important to understand that monetary issues and concerns may adversely
affect our emotional well-being. Warning signs that this may be the case include
persistent sadness and crying, excessive anxiousness, lack of sleep, constant fatigue,
undue irritability and anger, difficulty paying attention and staying focused, and the
inability to function at work, school and at home. Problems such as depression, anxiety,
compulsive behavior, over-eating, excessive gambling, increased drinking, illicit drug
use, and misuse of prescription medications are some of the troubling behaviors that we
can experience in reaction to financial hardship.
         However, there are things we can do in these difficult times to protect our mental
health. Effectively managing our overall level of stress and making it through this tough
economic period include the following:
     1. Keep things in perspective. Recognize that there are still good aspects in each of
         our lives, and retain hope for the future.
     2. Strengthen connections with friends and family who can provide emotional
     3. Engage in relaxing pastimes such as hobbies or appropriate physical activities
         (remember to see your medical doctor before taking up any new physical
     4. Explore re-training for new employment or enhance your current skills.
         Community colleges can be a great resource for this information.
     5. Seek trusted referrals for programs that offer reliable financial and home
         foreclosure assistance.
     6. Talk to a community or private mental health care provider, physician, spiritual
         leader, school counselor, or someone at a community health clinic.
Understand that while we are living in very challenging times, there are many resources
that are equipped and ready to offer assistance to us, our families, and the community-
at-large. By taking positive steps to manage our emotional stress and by looking into the
help and opportunities that are available to us, we will make it through this extremely
difficult time!

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