It started with a moment of silence for those who recently lost their lives.
Tucker City Council member Alexis Weaver held a virtual constituent conversation on May 25 to discuss Mental Health Awareness Month.
“We continue to see mass violence in our communities, and that does have an effect on our individual and community mental health,” Weaver said.
Joining Weaver was Dr. Christina Noble, a resident of Tucker. Noble is a psychologist with Anxiety Specialists of Atlanta who specializes in treating OCD, anxiety disorders, trauma, dissociative and personality disorders and more.
About 18% of adults in Georgia are diagnosed with a mental health condition, which does not include addiction or developmental disorders, Noble said.
“Addiction levels have skyrocketed during the pandemic,” Noble said. “One of the most significant factors is isolation.”
One out of five children age 12 to 17 reported having at least one severe depressive episode, an increase to years prior, Noble said. The pandemic made daily activities like attending school make way for anxiety and depression.
Weaver said it seems challenging for adults and kids to relearn social norms coming out of the pandemic.
“As a parent, I have a challenge navigating what is typical given that we have been through this life changing event,” Weaver said.
Weaver shared her own experience with mental health in late elementary school, when she experienced loneliness and depression.
“Going through that, all the way through college and into adulthood, I struggled to find the resources, to find the people I should ask for help,” Weaver said.
Noble said children cope better when adults identify and validate their feelings. Open communication between parents, school counselors and teachers is key.
Spending time in the community, whether through religious activity, volunteering or running for office, are ways to lessen anxiety about events that are out of your control, Noble said.
“When we’re working together, growing together and building things together … crime rates go down, intimate partner violence goes down, violence against children goes down,” Noble said. “Depression levels decrease, anxiety levels decrease.”
Other tips from Noble to combat anxiety:
– Limit “doom scrolling” – spending too much time reading bad news on social media.
– Use meditation and breathing exercises or apps.
– Stay in the moment by engaging all five senses.
– Grab some markers and a coloring book.
– Help a neighbor.
For more information on mental health, visit National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The organization offers free support groups, a hotline and a virtual convention, NAMICon, coming up June 14-16.
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