Richard Stride commentary: This month and always, pay attention to the state of your mental health


May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so let's talk about this important topic.

We all know problems in our lives can cause anxiety. Those problems can be relationship issues, pressure at work or school, or many other triggers. They can have an impact on our mental wellbeing.

What if the world around you is causing you mental anguish and you’re not even aware? Whether you have insight or you don't, that's really beside the point. Issues or problems that you see or hear about are more than likely affecting you right now. So, let’s talk about what’s affecting you right now and what you can do about it. 

Maybe it’s the economy and inflation. A 2023 Gallup Poll indicated 42 percent of Americans worry they won’t have enough money to pay their monthly bills. There is a strong connection between worrying about money and mental distress. 

What can I do? I am glad you asked. Here are a few suggestions from money management experts.

Try to set money aside. It doesn’t matter how much. You can start with very little. Just make sure it’s in an interest-bearing account. Identify expenses that can be trimmed — we all have them — by tracking your expenses. Focus on paying down variable rate loans or refinancing them for a fixed rate loan. See if you qualify for a credit card that gives you rewards or money back on purchases. Shop around. You will find one that is a good fit for you and your family.   

We know that violence globally affects our lives more than we think. Just because you have zero ties to whatever is going on doesn’t mean you’re not affected. Being constantly bombarded with images of hostility, hatred and violence affects you in more ways than you think.

It doesn’t really matter where you see the images: in print, on news shows, online or personal experience, although the latter affects us more acutely than some of the others.

A recent study in 2022 found that 73 percent of adults feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of hostilities around the world. You can take control of that right now. How, you ask? I am glad you asked. 

A good start, according to experts who study these issues, is to first and foremost seek help if you are in a violent or dysfunctional situation. Don’t put it off. Do it today if global or national issues cause you worry or keep you up at night. 

The same experts recommend curtailing and setting limits on your devices and screen time.  Research and find out what works best for you in trying to limit your exposure. One suggestion is to block social media during certain hours of the day. You can download an ad blocker to limit what you and your family see.

Ask yourself, do I really need to watch cable news shows that rehash the same issues repeatedly? The answer will probably be no. Pick a favorite and watch one, not repeated news. As far as internet or social media time, ask yourself, do I really need to log on? If the answer is yes, then limit your time and log off when you finish doing what you need to do. 

You can’t change everything, but you can make a difference. Remember the serenity prayer.  Change or help where you can. Come to grips with things you can’t change. Know the difference between the two.   

Loneliness is another big mental health issue in the U.S. A recent survey indicated that 58 percent of adults are lonely. People who are low income, young adults, those who are part of an under-represented racial group or are dealing with a mental illness have even higher rates of loneliness. 

Shockingly, I learned those with low levels of social interaction share the same risk to health as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.

What can you do? Again, I am glad you asked. There are many things you can do to combat loneliness. There are many places to seek support. Counseling therapy can provide a layer of support. Seek out groups with similar interests such as book clubs, classes or religious groups. If you are lonely and depressed on top of it, seek help from counseling therapy. Loneliness can lead to mild, moderate or severe depression. Do not wait to seek help. Do it today. You will be glad you did. 

Lastly, find healthy coping skills. It’s tempting to go for the quick fix, like substances. Substance use for coping doesn’t help anyone in the long run. Figure out what works for you. You might have to try lots of things until you find something that works. 

Believe me, it's worth it. You can practice positive affirmations like, “fear doesn’t control me,” and, “I can let go of my sadness because I am safe.” Pick affirmations that have personal meaning for you. You will be surprised at how one positive affirmation that you repeat often can affect your mental health. 

Remember, everyone goes through periods of stress and hardship. Reach out if you need help.  It is as easy as making a phone call. Don’t wait. Do it now. Keep in mind in difficult times it’s important to concentrate and take care of what matters most:  you and your family. 


Richard Stride is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at