Mental Health Professionals Speak On The Way Their Own Peace Was Impacted By The Pandemic

a person wearing glasses talking on a cell phone: Loneliness is not a condition to be treated but rather a natural part of the human experience. And that's a good thing says Mayra Mendez, PhD, LMFT, program coordinator of mental health services at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California. "The most helpful thing to know about loneliness is that it isn't something that happens to you, it's something you can control," she says. "It's okay to be lonely sometimes, it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you."If the pandemic taught us anything (and it certainly was an eye-opener about our way of life) it’s that it’s ok to not be ok, as long as you plan to do something about it.

That’s a conversation that was had during week one of the 2021 ESSENCE Fest as part of ESSENCE Wellness House. Dr. Cleopatra Booker, chief clinical operations leader at Optum, and author, speaker and media personality Roxane Battle led an important conversation on Thriving With Anxiety and Depression and ways that the pandemic put the spotlight on mental health.

“Prior to 2020, it was only about 11 percent of Americans that experienced mental health symptoms. We are now up to 40 percent of Americans who acknowledge that they’re experiencing some form of depression or anxiety,” Dr. Booker shared.

She pointed out that women of color with children at home were almost half of the people saying they were experiencing some form of anxiety and depression. Depression, for clarity, is a period of feeling low and not feeling like you can climb out of it. There can be a lack of focus, as well as irritability where you snap at loved ones and more. As for anxiety, it is a strong feeling of nervousness and fear that envelops the person dealing with it. Some people confuse the physical symptoms of it, like their heart racing, with a heart attack.

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