What to Know About Mental Health Awareness Month
Since 1949, Mental Health Awareness month is observed throughout May to bring awareness, encourage treatment, and decrease the stigma of mental health disorders.
Nearly 450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental illness with anxiety disorders being the most common. Only one-third of those will seek treatment.
The everyday stress of life can take a toll on everyone, especially after the past tumultuous years. With these constant stressors, how can one learn to cope?
Come Together for Mental Health
This year’s theme, “Together for Mental Health,” urges communities to come together to raise mental health awareness while eliminating the stigma through shared personal stories, advocacy, social media engagement, and education.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, for example, hosts educational sessions on advancing mental health research, crisis care that focuses on building community resources, culture and identity disparities in mental health, and youth mental health.
When the Occasional Blues Turn to Something Else
Everyone experiences “the blues” now and then, but for some, prolonged symptoms of mental illness can negatively affect their everyday routines and overall quality of life. Feelings of sadness, nervousness, and anger are natural human emotions that you may experience daily, so when exactly do these feelings become abnormal?
Understanding the Signs of Mental Health Issues
Being able to quickly identify the signs of disturbances in a loved one or your own mental health is imperative to prevent further suffering and seek help in a timely manner. Pay attention to significant signs, such as:
- Unexplainable mood shifts
- Changes in sleep patterns and appetite
- Difficulty concentrating and/or memory loss
- Loss of interest and social withdrawal
- Unexplained fatigue
- Unusual amounts of anxiety
Knowing When to Seek Help
Although the occasional blues are normal, if you notice your mental health is affecting your everyday lifestyle, then it’s probably time to seek professional help. A therapist or psychologist will be able to determine the severity of your case and advise on how to proceed with a treatment tailored to you. Schedule your appointment if you or a loved one are experiencing:
- Prolonged or excessive sadness, anxiety, or apathy
- Dramatic changes in sleep patterns or diet
- Inability to cope with daily activities
- Substance abuse
- Thoughts about self-harm
You can help prevent or diminish symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues through a few simple self-care practices. Most importantly, learning to identify the symptoms prematurely will help you address them faster and understand how to deal with them properly. Other self-care practices to adopt are:
- Get enough sleep
- Stay active, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood
- Explore mindful activities like meditation or yoga
- Spend time with family and friends that uplift your mood
How to Show Your Support to Others
Several people who suffer from mental health often refuse to seek help due to the fear of appearing weak or unstable in front of others. Helping get rid of the stigma that mental health is shameful is imperative in convincing people to seek help as well as in suicide prevention.
This Mental Health Awareness month, consider becoming an advocate of mental health and to be an ally of those who may need help. Teach children to be open about their feelings and encourage them to step forward when their mental health or that of their peers is out of the ordinary. Most importantly, be sure to take the steps necessary to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.