Letter to the Editor

Mental health awareness

Monday, May 18, 2020

Beef and bikes are what May is all about if one is a beef producer or a cycling enthusiast. May is the month reserved for graduations, but this year they are mostly virtual affairs. Eggs, salsa, hamburger and strawberries are also feted in May.

Most of us are aware that military veterans are center stage in May, especially when we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice with Memorial Day ceremonies. Did you know that we celebrate "Carry the Load" May 11 to 25? This is a virtual event and features ways to show your patriotism. You can do a fine job of it if you would just let a veteran know you are grateful for their service to America.

Older Americans are noted for their volunteer spirit, and hence they are also honored in May. Sadly, it is also a special month for raising awareness concerning the prevalence of elder abuse and neglect. Check with Elderbridge for ways you can join in the effort to honor and respect senior citizens.

My favorite way to celebrate May, however, is to promote mental health awareness. This is especially relevant this year, due to all the trials and difficulties related to COVID-19 and the damage to the farm economy. The National Alliance on Mental Illness wants those suffering to know "you are not alone." Feelings of sadness, despair and fearfulness about the future can be heightened by social distancing and the disruption of normal routines. It is important to maintain one's usual channels of communication, to the extent possible. Social media, texts, video chat or phone calls can boost one's spirits. Exercise such as walking 20 minutes a day can help. Don't rule out humor. Laughter is life-giving. It's not good to be alone, or feel lonely and unable to join in with loved ones. This coronavirus will pass. We'll get through it. That said, it is important to take care of one's body, eat properly, sleep sufficiently and cultivate optimism. Limit the intake of news about the pandemic. Make the most of alone time by meditation, reading biographies, studying self help literature. A varied attack helps. Keep active, but don't overdo it. Moderation is the key. Be safe out there!

Bill Kersting, Spencer