Focusing on mental health in 2023

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Many people resolve to eat healthier or go to the gym more — but experts say your mental health should also be a priority for the New Year.

Some believe now’s the time for healing, as we emerge from the COVID pandemic.

It’s been a rough year for mental wellness — COVID restrictions and isolation amplified stress and anxiety.

“COVID created kind of an environment of post traumatic stress disorder for society, people didn’t get to do what they normally do, they didn’t get to see the families, often, economically, they were challenged or threatened because some people couldn’t do their jobs,” Gov. Josh Green said.

It’s especially hard for social workers who not only help others but also deal with their own trauma.

“We’re overwhelmed. We’re exhausted,” said a state child protective services worker who asked HNN not to identify her. She says a worker shortage is exascerbating the mental health crisis. “One social worker is given cases for what seven social workers should be doing. We’re short staffed. People are leaving left and right.”

“We need more workers. We need more mental health days something we need a morale boost,” she added.

Governor Green says his administration is working to address trauma and burnout — a new state Office of Wellness and Resilience is tasked with using an empathetic approach.

“Be a little less judgmental, and unkind to other people for what they’re doing, what they’re going through,” said life coach Diana Gremillion says it’s a good first step to normalizing discussions about trauma. “Just that greater connection, you know, bringing to light those things that we may have been afraid to bring to light because that will be a beacon for somebody was on the other side.”

What can help is to shift the focus from shame and punishment to support and healing.

“When we are willing to accept help, when we’re willing to kind of talk about what’s happened to us, that’s the only way that we can heal from it and really move forward, individually and as a society,” Gremillion said.

If you need mental health support, call or text 988 or call 808-832-3100.

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