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It’s OK to not be OK

As 2020 continues to push us and force us to be innovative in ways we didn’t even know was possible, it’s a good time to reflect on how this year has affected us; the good and the bad. For me, I have loved seeing the camaraderie amongst our team members, the healing of some very sick patients and the community coming together to support the health care community. Yet, like many I have found certain days to be downright challenging and exhausting.

In a recent conversation with Dr. Katelyn Thompson, a psychiatrist at UnityPoint Health — Berryhill Center, we were talking about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people’s mental health. While thankfully not all of us have personally contracted the virus itself, the pandemic has certainly impacted everyone on some level. We’ve hit the point where many of us have experienced the inner battle between being so over the pandemic, while still wanting to do our part to keep ourselves and the community safe. As we go into flu season and the weather get’s colder, I beg you on behalf of our healthcare workers to remain strong and continue to do your part — wear your mask, wash your hands, social distance and get your flu shot.

However, it’s also important to remember people need socialization and things to look forward to. We were created to live in community. This means we must be creative in finding ways we can still connect in a safe way. Take a walk with a friend outdoors. Embrace the outdoor winter activities. Hold events in venues that allow for physical distancing and are committed to masking.

Maintaining good emotional health is essential. In addition to staying connected with our family and friends, the following are some helpful emotional health tips.

• Exercise — Your body releases endorphins when you exercise that naturally make you feel better.

• Get outdoors — It’s time to explore a park, bike trail or new outdoor space.

• Disconnect from social media — While it can be a fun way to stay connected with friends, you might need a break if it’s starting to have a negative effect on your emotional health.

It’s also a nice reminder to know “it’s okay to not be okay.” If you’re finding your mental health is struggling, it’s okay to seek help. One of the healthiest things you can do for your mind and spirit is talk with a counselor or psychologist, and the greater Fort Dodge community is lucky to have an amazing team and a variety of services at UnityPoint Health — Berryhill Center.

UnityPoint Health — Berryhill Center services include:

• In-person and virtual outpatient behavioral services to help individuals with depression, anxiety, medication management, stress, panic disorders, phobias, child behavioral disorders, grief counseling and substance use disorders.

• A behavioral health urgent care that is available Monday- Friday for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis including crisis assessment, suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts, psychosis, threats of harm to self or others, substance abuse crisis, or needing psychiatric assessment.

• A mobile crisis response team which provides on-site, face-to-face mental health services for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in Webster, Humboldt, Pocahontas and Wright counties. A neighbor, parent, teacher, law enforcement, concerned individual, or person in crisis can call YourLifeIowa at (855) 581-8111. The Crisis Line is available 24/7, 365 days per year. This service is funded by County Social Services, MHDS Region and free of charge to those utilizing the service.

• Several community-based programs to help address psychosocial needs.

• Community resource center that provides educational programs and materials for groups, service agencies, businesses and organizations on a variety of behavioral health topics.

Take a moment to reflect on the how this year has affected you and let our team know if you need us. Berryhill Center has compassionate professionals who are here to help process thoughts, feelings and emotions. You matter to this world and we are here for you — both your physical and emotional health.

Leah Glasgo is the president and CEO of UnityPoint Health — Fort Dodge.

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