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Column: How To Be Well: Know How to Heal Stress Injuries

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had some sort of physical injury. Most of you should be raising your hands. As I suspect the longer one lives in Teton Valley the more likely they are to experience a knee injury, a broken bone, or some other recreational-related accident. 

Now, when you had that injury I imagine several things happened. First, you got help from a professional. Maybe it required a toboggan ride down Targhee, a check-in with your Primary Care Provider, or regular torture sessions with a PT. Whatever it was you did it and no one questioned whether you needed treatment or not.

You also probably talked about your injury, how it happened, and its effects. People empathized with you and told you about “that one time they…” Maybe, they brought you food, went on walks with you, and checked in on you. Maybe, you even had to miss some work or change your daily routine so you could heal.

Now, raise your hand if you’ve ever had a psychological injury of some kind. Half of you should be raising your hands because 46% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life.

Did those same things happen? Did you openly talk about it? Did you get help? Did people regularly check in on you and ask how you were doing? 

I’m guessing probably not since 53.4% of Idahoans don’t get the mental healthcare they need.

April is National Stress Awareness Month. And I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t experienced some sort of stress in their life. I can, however, think of lots of people who didn’t have the support they really needed to heal their stress injury. Which is a term I’m stealing from Laura McGladrey and the Responder Alliance.

They use a tool adapted from the US Marine Corps called the Stress Continuum. It helps individuals and teams quickly identify their level of functioning. It moves from Green, Ready to Red, Critical with lists of symptoms we might be experiencing along the spectrum.

What I love about this tool is its ability to help us help others. So often when we experience stress or mental health issues, reaching out feels impossible. And because most of us were never taught how to help someone experiencing this type of injury, we don’t do a great job of offering up support. 

We miss the signs of a stress injury or don’t know what to say or do.

Preventing mental health conditions and building resilience, takes all of us. And it can be as simple as doing what you did when your friend had a physical injury—asking how they are doing, listening, believing what they say, bringing them food, and making sure they have the support they need to heal.

As the Responder Alliance says, “Stress is inevitable. Stress injury doesn’t have to be.” Who can you help today?

If you, or someone you know, need help with their stress injury, let us know. We provide free and confidential support, as well as six free counseling sessions to qualified individuals. Call or text 208-354-6198, email, or get in touch with us. Our offices are staffed Monday-Friday from 9 am-4 pm. 

76 N Main Street, Suite 206, Driggs, ID 83422
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