May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a month where we join to help spread awareness around mental illness to let people know they are not alone. The stigma around mental illness makes it hard for some to open about their mental health issues they are dealing with. This is the reason that Mental Health Awareness Month is so important.
How common are mental illnesses?
Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.
- More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
Can your mental health change over time?
Yes, it’s important to remember that a person’s mental health can change over time, depending on many factors. When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted.
Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.
Here are a few signs to look for as a guide:
- Impulsive behaviors or being more irritated than usual
- Not functioning like their usual selves (i.e., change in habits of how they dress, general appearance, eating or sleep habits)
- Talking about feelings of loneliness or despair
- Excessive worry
- Trouble concentrating
Try these few tips to keep your balance, or re-balance yourself:
Value yourself. Treat yourself with kindness, respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects.
Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health:
- Eat nutritious meals
- Drink plenty of water
- Exercise, which helps decrease depression and anxiety and improve moods
- Get enough sleep. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to a high rate of depression.
Surround yourself with good people. People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or support group.
Remember! Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and lead full, rewarding lives.