Wowzer, this year has been something else, hasn't it? All of us have probably said something like this dozens of times in our lives, "I feel like I'm losing my mind" or "am I going nuts?" You've also probably said something like, "I feel like I'm on crazy pills" a time or two. Perhaps you're saying it every day lately.

It's seems easy for most of us to make light of mental health issues without even realizing it. Mental health is a HUGE issue in the United States. The National Institute of Mental Health says that 1 in 5 Americans live with a mental illness. I'll repeat that, one in five. That's over 46,000,0000 according to the 2017 stats.

COVID-19 probably hasn't made it any easier. Lockdowns, masks, job loss, uncertainty, and 170,000+ deaths contributed to the virus (with non-stop updates since March) can take a toll on anyone. Add interrupted schedules, kids at home, working at home, health worries, etc. and the list of stressful events that could contribute to mental health issues seem extremely long this year.

A recent report from the Montana U.S. Attorneys office states a nearly 21% rise in violent crimes in Yellowstone County (year-to-year). These numbers are also being reflected in other populous counties in Montana. The jump in violent crime in Billings is largely attributed to methamphetamine, but one could easily link underlying mental health issues as a contributing factor to drug abuse/addiction. The press release stated,

Since before the onset of COVID, we have seen a steady uptick in violent crime.  Now that COVID has fully affected life in Billings, we continue to see increases, especially in domestic assault and weapons cases.  There have been eight murders from March through July.

I'm not asking if COVID-19 has brought you to the point of shooting up meth or assaulting someone for $50. I'm just wondering how your head is holding up? Are you starting to feel like the guy I picked from stock images in the picture at the top of this article? Have you been drinking more? The American Heart Association is concerned that too many of us are. Are you not sleeping well or feeling depressed? Maybe it's a feeling of anxiety that never seems to go away. Mental health doesn't mean that you are bat-crap crazy.

The Billings chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness is hosting a virtual mental health walk this year. NAMI Billings is encouraging participants in the September 20th event to "walk, use their treadmill or go outside in their backyard or local park" to join the event, socially distanced. You can find full event details HERE.

NAMI Billings is a non-profit that offers free local mental health programs and services. If you aren't feeling quite right in your head or know someone you are concerned about, you should never feel too embarrassed to talk to professionals.

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