New Health Care Authority campaign encourages focusing on your mental health

OLYMPIA, WA - If you have a lot on your plate right now and are feeling more stressed and anxious than normal, experts say it's important to prioritize your mental wellness.

A director from the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) said young people often turn to drugs or alcohol to destress.

Instead of turning to alcohol or other drugs, the director said meditating, checking off your to-do list and exercising are a few ways to destress and relax.

The HCA has launched a new campaign to encourage young people and their parents to focus on their wellness and practice healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety.

Keri Waterland with the HCA said some things people use to manage stress and anxiety can actually do the opposite of helping.

She said sometimes the way parents destress is by doing online and looking at their phones. Logging on to social media can sometimes provide negative messages and add on to things that are already stressful.

"And so taking a break from news and social media is actually a good thing that can show that you are taking a break," Waterland said. "That you are taking care and really just unplugging."

That's one way to destress.

Waterland said social distancing is hard, but continuing to connect with family and peers through phone calls, Facetime and email is important for one's wellness.

She said connecting to the community and giving back is another good way to destress.

If you do find yourself in need, Waterland recommends talking to a therapist. For more information on resources, you can go to their website at hca.wa.gov/about-hca/tribal-affairs/resources.