In 2019, more than 9 million U.S. adults had both a substance use disorder and a mental illness, according to a government survey.
Since then, as we know, the nationwide pandemic that started last year has taken a toll on the mental health of many Americans.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an unprecedented surge in drug overdoses in 2020.
“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” former CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. said in a December press release. “It’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways.
Many people diagnosed with a mental illness start misusing substances to fight symptoms related to their illness or deal with the side effects of medicine used to treat their illness.
When should you get help? Many times, if you’re experiencing a lot of anxiety, excessive mood swings, or feel disconnected from regular activities, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. Learn about these symptoms and more by reading “Mental health: What's normal, what's not” from the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/mental-health/art-20044098).
As the conversation about mental health has gotten louder in recent years, the number of resources online dedicated to awareness and treatment have also increased.
Here are a few below:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Helpline
This helpline is a free, confidential treatment referral and information service for people and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in English and Spanish. Learn more (https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline)
CDC Treatment Resources List
The CDC has a page on their site that lists a variety of free and confidential resources to help you connect with a professional counselor near you. See it here.
This resource-rich website also features a wealth of information on the basics about mental health, the different disorders, and much more.
Help for Mental Illnesses (National Institute of Mental Health)
This resource page features helplines, information about finding a provider or treatment, info on how to decide if a provider is right for you, and much more.
Classroom Resource: Nurturing My Mental & Emotional Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
This activity helps promote mindfulness and teaches teens how to practice health-enhancing behaviors, which can support better management of stress and reduce the chances of exploring substance use as an alternative.