Letter to the Editor: Make a call to get help



I am a staff member at Strength In Peers, a nonprofit organization operating in Shenandoah, Page, and Rockingham counties. According to the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, 62 million Americans live and work in rural communities. Rural communities face certain health care needs such as the issue of accessibility, higher numbers of underinsured, and a lower number of primary and mental health area providers. In honor of National Rural Health Day (Nov. 17,), I am writing to stress the importance of addressing mental health needs in Shenandoah and Page counties.

One-in-five adults experience a mental health problem in any one year, including depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder. Depression has no one cause, but it is believed to be an imbalance of chemicals within the brain. Some symptoms of depression include sadness, lack of energy, feeling of worthlessness, loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable, or difficulty sleeping.

Anxiety disorder can vary in severity, manifesting in physical, psychological or behavioral symptoms. Feelings of overstimulation, dizziness, tingling, worry, nervousness or unease can be signs of anxiety. Those experiencing panic attacks may confuse their symptoms with those of a heart attack. Those who are unsure about their symptoms should always err on the side of caution and call 911.

Substance use disorder often co-occurs with depression, anxiety or psychosis by serving as a form of self-medication. Substance use disorder includes the abuse of substances that lead to work, school, health, or legal problems and dependency on substance to remain balanced. However, using alcohol or other drugs does not in itself mean that a person has a substance use disorder.

Those who are experiencing or know of someone experiencing a mental health or medical emergency should call 911. Operators are trained to assist with appropriate resources immediately. Those who are contemplating suicide or know of someone who is should call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline,  1-800-273-8255.

Finally, we all need to remember to practice self-care daily. Laugh. Give ourselves a break. Be mindful of the present. Eat more vegetables. Take care of ourselves.


Samantha Bryant, Woodstock