Healthy Living: Mental Health Month: Stress can lead to mental health issues

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SEATTLE -- Crisis calls during this pandemic have more than tripled for some call centers in King County. Stress, anxiety, even depression are plaguing some Washingtonians navigating uncharted territory.

May Is Mental Health Month and as Dr. Jim Polo, the Behavioral Medical Director with Regence, tells us, chronic stress that isn't managed could lead to mental health problems.

Constant worry and fear can create anxiety, irritability, difficulties with sleep or even promote increased use of alcohol. Dr. Polo says it is important to prioritize your mental health to cope with that stress and that might mean you talk with someone directly.

“Think about connecting with a counselor. Now in this case, you might want to either reach out to your primary care physician or to your health plan to figure out what resources are available near you. But many behavioral health counselors are now offering their services online for you to participate in from the convenience of your home," he says.

Dr. Polo says take advantage of technology right now and connect with friends and family, as you are more likely to be honest about what you are stressing over.

Dr. Polo says you can also download free apps for mindfulness and meditation to practice at home.

He says if you need more accountability or interaction, you can seek out local fitness resources like the YMCA or yoga studios as many are offering virtual options.

Dr. Polo says if you are at a crisis point or at risk, don’t hesitate to call a hotline like Crisis Connections in King County, or your local emergency room to get advice on what to do in that moment.

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