Health News

Mental Health Awareness Month

Let’s talk about mental health

How much effort do you focus on your mental health? Do you talk about it with your family and friends as easily as you do about your latest annual physical? May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so maybe it’s time?

Mental health is more than psychological

Your mental health includes your emotional, social and psychological well-being. Together, they affect how you think, feel, and act, says SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. How you — and everyone — handle stress, relate to others, and make choices, are all affected by your mental health.

Ripple effect of mental health issues

While your mental health is as important on its own, you may not realize how else mental health issues can impact your life, such as:

  • People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population.
  • A third of U.S. adults with mental illness also had a substance abuse disorder in 2021.
  • High school students with significant depression symptoms are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers.

Healthy well-being begins early

You may be surprised to learn that half of all mental health disorders show before a person turns 14 years old and three-fourths begin before age 24, says SAMHSA. Signs to watch for in adults and adolescents may include:

  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
  • Not performing daily tasks or handling daily problems
  • Not wanting to hang out with friends or family
  • Fighting a lot with family and friends; not controlling emotions
  • Having low or no energy, or feeling hopeless
  • Feeling confused, forgetful, edgy, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Wanting to harm yourself or others
  • Smoking or drinking excessively

If you feel or see one or more of these signs, you may want to discuss with your primary care doctor or contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for resources near you. You can contact them directly by calling 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), texting “HelpLine” to 62640 or emailing them at helpline@nami.org.

Self-care tips for Improving your mental well-being

When struggling with your mental health, in addition to seeking outside help, here are some actions to take:

  • Stick to a treatment plan; don’t change it without a doctor’s guidance, and keep your primary care physician updated.
  • Control stress with activities such as meditation or yoga; eat healthy and exercise; and get enough sleep.
  • Reach out to family and friends for support and help.
  • Get closer to nature as it can have a calming effect. Take a walk.
  • Plan things to look forward to doing or people to be seeing.

Pull quote: If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, please chat, call or text 988.