Making mental health a priority on World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day, Oct. 10, is an opportunity for students, families and staff across Dallas ISD to focus on protecting and improving mental health and well-being. This year’s theme is “make mental health and well-being for all a global priority,” and the district is encouraging everyone to check in with their mental health and intentionally practice self-care.
Everyone experiences daily stressors, so it is especially important to learn the signs that may indicate an ongoing mental health concern and to pay attention to repeated thoughts and feelings. The following symptoms may be indicators of mental illness when they are experienced for prolonged periods of time:
- Sudden mood changes
- Decreased sense of confidence
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Withdrawing from relationships
- Excessive use of drugs or alcohol
- Loss of interest in regular activities
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
- Feeling sad or down
- Paranoia, delusions or feeling detached from reality
- Experiencing exhaustion or fatigue
- Difficulty coping with minor problems and daily activities
- Thoughts of suicide
In addition to performing regular check-ins, self-care is a key practice when it comes to maintaining overall well-being, especially for those who may be feeling overwhelmed. Join us in dedicating time to mental wellness by incorporating one or more of these positive habits into your day or week:
- Do a simple stretching routine. Something as quick as taking a moment to relax your jaw, neck and shoulders can make a difference.
- Switch off your phone for an hour. Try moving it to another room or turning on “airplane mode” or “do not disturb.”
- Make a playlist of cheerful songs and press “play” whenever you could use a pick-me-up.
- Get in touch with a friend you have not seen for some time.
- Organize a friend or family game night and bring out all your favorite board games or video games.
- Carry a water bottle, and make sure to stay hydrated when you find yourself struggling to concentrate or are feeling extra tired.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Be gentle with yourself, especially on your hardest days. Select a few self-affirmations, and speak to yourself with the same care you would show your friends and family.
- Spend time outside every day. Even if you only have energy for a few minutes, the fresh air will do you good.
- Every time someone compliments you, make a note in a journal or on your computer. On bad days, their words may lift your spirits.
For anyone who is struggling, help is available. Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or mental health care provider with questions and concerns. If you are experiencing a crisis, get immediate support by contacting the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in English or Spanish at 988, or by accessing the National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., by calling 1-800-950-6264, texting “HelpLine” to 62640 or emailing email@example.com.
Dallas ISD staff can also take advantage of Dallas ISD’s Employee Assistance Program by LifeWorks. The confidential, secure platform has countless resources available online for free, including on-call counselors who are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Reach out to LifeWorks at (972) 925-4000, or visit www.dallasisd.org/benefits and click on Benefits Resources to access online EAP information.
You matter, and so does your mental health and well-being. Take some time to reflect on how you are doing, and prioritize yourself and your needs. And remember: You are never alone.
*Sources: LifeWorks and World Health Organization