April 1, 2021 12:23 PM EDT

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Los Angeles, April 01, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted our nation’s mental health, says Dr. Michele Nealon, licensed clinical psychologist and president of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. But Dr. Nealon says the mental health crisis the pandemic generated is also an opportunity to re-examine how we view and treat our own individual, as well as our country’s emotional and mental health care.  

“Before the pandemic, many of us ignored our mental and emotional health, or minimized its importance,” Dr. Nealon explains. “The pandemic revealed how vital our mental health is, and how integral it is to our overall health and wellbeing.”

In a survey taken by the American Psychological Association, nearly 1 in 5 adults said their mental health was worse in 2020 than it had been in 2019 because of disruptions caused by COVID-19. Additionally, nearly 7 in 10 said they have experienced increased stress over the course of the pandemic.

“The mental health pandemic created by the medical one is predicted to last for years,” said Dr. Nealon. “This has given us a new awareness of the significant role mental health plays in our wellness. I’m hopeful that individually and as a country, we will take our mental health as seriously as we take our physical health. It’s a lesson that we shouldn’t ignore.”  

Dr. Nealon believes that continuing to prioritize our mental health, while also focusing on building resiliency, are keys to being prepared for the next crisis, and for emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger and wiser.

Dr. Nealon offers the following guidance for maintaining wellness during times of uncertainty:

Prioritize mental healthUnderstand the connection between the mind and the body. How you feel mentally affects how you feel physically and vice versa. Recognize that taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health.

Acknowledge and address your feelings. Ignoring your feelings only allows them to build up until you’re at a breaking point. Addressing them allows you to identify stressors and understand your mental health.

Establish boundaries. Set limits for how you want to be treated and stick to them. Healthy boundaries are necessary for good mental health.

Engage in self-care. Prioritize what is necessary to your health and for helping you better cope with stressors. Focus on taking care of yourself so that you remain physically and emotionally strong.

Build resiliencyLearn from past difficult situations. Look back at previous times of stress and strain and ask yourself what you learned. How can you respond effectively to new difficulties?

Be introspective. Discover ways in which you grew during times of struggle. Did you learn a new skill? Did your relationships improve? Knowing the positives can boost self-worth and give you  reasons to push forward.

Foster optimism. Don’t focus on what you fear. Focus on and envision what you want, and take note of the ways you start to feel better as you work through difficult times.

Set goals and move toward meeting them. Set realistic goals and ask yourself what’s the one thing you could do today that helps you get closer to what you want to achieve.

Practice gratitude. Regularly remembering things you’re grateful for in your life helps form a base of positivity to build upon.

“No matter how discouraging the future seems now, we have to remember that the pandemic will one day be over. Prioritizing our mental health and building resiliency mean we can and will bounce back,” said Dr. Nealon. 

For resources on mental and behavioral health, go to

About The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Integrating theory with hands-on experience, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology provides education rooted in a commitment to innovation, service, and community for thousands of diverse students across the United States and globally. Founded in 1979, the nonprofit, regionally accredited university now features campuses in iconic locations across the country (Chicago, Southern California, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Dallas) and online. To spark positive change in the world where it matters most, The Chicago School has continued to expand its educational offerings beyond the field of psychology to offer more than 35 degrees and certificates in the professional fields of health services, nursing, education, counseling, business, and more. Through its engaged professional model of education, commitment to diversity and inclusion, and an extensive network of domestic and international professional partnerships, The Chicago School’s students receive real-world training opportunities that reflect their future careers. The Chicago School is also a proud affiliate of TCS, a nonprofit system of colleges advancing student success and community impact. To learn more, visit

Lisa Riley
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
(312) 646-9130
Source: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

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