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Mental Health Awareness Month comes at a transition point in the pandemic


(WBNG) -- May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is recognized by various organizations, including Broome County Mental Health.

The goal is to raise awareness about mental health, mental health resources as well as to reduce the stigma surrounding it, as the pandemic continues to shine a spotlight on the issue.

Dr. Art Frenz, a clinical psychologist in Broome County, says we can begin chipping away at that stigma by adjusting the way that we look at mental health.

"We tend to view mental health problems as diseases," he said. "but I look at it in terms of being interested in learning about ourselves, to learn how we function, gain insight into ourselves and then see if there's things we want to work on, things that we want to improve,"

He says just as the onset of the pandemic and the isolation that came with it created stress for many people, as life inches to normal he expects there will be new challenges.

He says the transition back to normal will likely be more difficult for people who are more inclined to spend time alone and avoid social situations, as those will become more prevalent again. People who missed those things on the other hand will thrive as they return.

He says the transition could also create interpersonal tension between people with differing viewpoints on how things should be handled once restrictions are lifted and things like social distancing and mask-wearing become more optional.

"Differences of opinion, on masks, on vaccines, on social distancing, it will challenge us to work on our communication skills, how to have different opinions, and how to respect other people's opinions, and be empathetic toward those who think differently than us," he said.

He says if you are struggling with mental health, it is important to seek help in dealing with it because professionals can help you learn the skills you need to live a healthy, successful life.

For a full list of mental health resources offered in Broome County, click here.

Jack Arpey

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