Serena Muhammad

When we think of achieving health, we often equate it with exercising, eating healthy, and getting adequate rest. But just as important is our mental health, which often gets ignored in comparison because we can’t see mental health like we do physical fitness.

In recent days and weeks, most St. Louisans have felt their mental health take an impact. They may be feeling more hopeless, frustrated, sad, outraged, scared, or any combination of these feelings than ever before. Between the underlying effects of social distancing and sheltering in place from COVID-19, and the civil unrest being felt across the country, the toll on our mental health has been heavy. 

Recognizing that everyone is undergoing added levels of stress right now, the Saint Louis Mental Health Board partnered with Behavioral Health Response and United Way to make sure every St. Louisan had the resources necessary to make it through the most trying times of this pandemic.

Available immediately, you can dial 2-1-1 and press 1 to get access to free, confidential, and professional support any time of day and any day of the week.

By pressing “1” after dialing “2-1-1,” you will be directed to a professional mental health expert at Behavioral Health Response who is ready to talk with you about any worry you have. 

The United Way hosts the 2-1-1 number, which you can dial to get information on essential community services from foreign language support to healthcare information. 

If you are feeling stressed about COVID-19 news, feeling worried about providing for your family, or simply feeling lonely, we want you to call so that we can help you. 

I have had the privilege of working with people who have recovered from traumatic experiences and witnessing their desire to heal. I’ve seen people pinpoint a past moment when something bad happened to them, and then shift their thinking from blaming themselves for the experience to recognizing that it doesn’t have to define who they are forever. 

I’m passionate about helping these and all people thrive and reach their full potential, no matter who they are and what they’ve been through. 

That realization that a person can get past something difficult or begin to think about themselves differently fosters exactly the type of selfcare and healing that people need in order to recover. 

There’s no shame in reaching out and asking for help—we have this service set up and resources available to you for this specific reason. 

BHR’s experts are trained to answer your calls compassionately and without judgement, and everything you talk about is completely confidential. 2-1-1 takes calls all over the St. Louis region, so no matter where you are, these resources are available to you. 

Talk to us. We can help you on your road to healing. 

For more information, you can visit stlmhb.com/get-help.  

Serena Muhammad is the director of Strategic Initiatives at the Saint Louis Mental Health Board. 

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