Hello friends, thanks for stopping by for our latest blog entry! I appreciate you all taking the time to read my posts and learn a little more about health and wellness. A big thank you to all the readers who emailed in with follow up questions and feedback! Our mission here is to raise awareness for health issues and educate people so that they may take proactive and preventative steps in their own life to improve their health, or improve the understanding surrounding the issue in their community. If you’d like to read a little bit about why we do this and how our business got started, check out our first blog.
HAPPY MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH, aka Mental Health Month! Okay, so I’m sure you’re wondering if it’s appropriate to wish someone a happy Mental Health Awareness Month. If you ask me, the attitude surrounding mental health seriously stigmatizes those who suffer and discourages people from being upfront and honest about their struggles. The world could use a little more celebration of those who put themselves and their struggles out there, and those who practice good mental health habits. Mental health is just like physical health in that there is constant maintenance and self care habits required to keep us all feeling our best. So, yes, HAPPY Mental Health Awareness Month to each and every one of you!
Every May, we celebrate Mental Health Month by raising awareness, fighting stigma, encouraging mental health screenings or assessments, and educating the community about the importance of making one’s mental health a priority. Mental health can have a profound impact on our lives, and may also have serious consequences, especially for those who have mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety.
I know right now you’re wondering, “So, who started Mental Health Month, anyway? Is this some new age holiday or what?” I’m super glad you asked! Mental Health Month was first observed in 1949, so, no, this is not some observance millennial’s came up with in order to justify following their bliss or their self-importance (and I use that as an example because people roll their eyes at millennial’s for those two attributes all the time, and in this case in regards to mental health, I think they’re actually onto something.)
Mental Health Month was established by Mental Health America, and every year since 1949, they have fought to educate the public on warning signs, symptoms, risk factors, and consequences of poor mental health. They highlight the correlation between mental health and mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia, and educate those who suffer from mental illness and their families on coping mechanisms and strategies for attaining and maintaining mental wellness.
People tend to assume that they know what the term mental health refers to, but haven’t really given it a whole lot of thought. That’s okay! The term “mental health” seems pretty self-explanatory, but I would bet that there’s a lot more involved than you realized. People also tend to assume that if they don’t suffer from depression or if they are successful and well liked, then they must be mentally healthy. This is not always the case. Mental health is a combination of our psychological (thoughts), emotional (feelings), and social well being (meaningful relationships and interactions with others that contribute to our self-worth and self-esteem). All three factors are essential in achieving mental wellness.
Think of your mental health like a car. I know it’s kind of a stretch, but go with me on this for a second. Let’s say mental wellness is like a Tesla, or whatever luxury vehicle is currently popular amongst rappers, and poor mental health is like a… broken down two-door Acura from the 80’s with the bumper and side mirrors duct-taped on, Now think of your life as a long road, with twists, and turns, and hills, and valleys, and potholes. There will be unpredictable weather, and obstacles. One of those vehicles will clearly handle the road much better than the other, when confronted with the same bumps in the road. This is how mental health can dictate how we lead our lives. Mental health affects the way we react to stress, choices we make, our behavior and actions, and our relationships with others.
Mental health issues affect about one in five American adults, which means it’s very common, but people don’t realize that because so many of the people suffering don’t talk about it. People suffering often feel their struggle is a sign of weakness or are too embarrassed to ask for help. Some people think that mental health is private and should not be discussed in public. Some people may not know how to seek medical help or are unable to find adequate healthcare (because healthcare gaps are very real in this country). Some people feel ashamed. Some people feel scared of judgment. This is why people suffer in silence, and suffer alone, too often. The stigma surrounding mental health issues perpetuates the isolation experienced by those who are suffering and prevents them from getting the help they need, and DESERVE. It makes us think that something is wrong with us, and everyone else is fine. It makes us feel different than everyone else, when we are not. In fact, statistically speaking, experiencing mental health issues makes us more similar to others than not.
One in ten teens have experienced a stage of severe depression. One in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness. Half of all Americans who experience major depressive periods don’t seek medical help. The tenth leading cause of death in the United States is suicide, and men are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide than women. I don’t share these statistics to scare anyone or to be morbid. I share these statistics with you to highlight how essential it is for us to eliminate the stigma that surrounds mental health, and embrace healthy and accepting attitudes in order to prevent unnecessary and undeserved suffering.
Mental health can be influenced by many factors. Some people are predisposed to mental health issues due to biological circumstances, from things such as hereditary predisposition, physical health problems like chronic or acute illness, brain chemistry, or an injury. There are also environmental factors that can result in mental health issues like abuse or experiencing trauma. The point is, experiencing mental health issues is not your fault, and it is not a failure. Mental health is a complicated recipe and any number of things can influence the outcome.
But, guys, guess what?
Treatment for mental health issues can drastically reduce symptoms. Many people who seek help from a medical professional even recover completely. By recovery, I mean that people report significant or complete improvement of negative thoughts or feelings. They are able to go back to lead fulfilling lives, and maintain and develop healthy meaningful relationships.
There are more treatment options available now than ever before, especially on the Internet. There are even apps for your phone that enable you to speak with a professional at all hours of the day, whenever you need them. And, yes, they actually help if you truly give them a shot. Therapy and support groups have been found to significantly help those who are struggling. There is also an arsenal of medications designed specifically for each different kind of mental health issue. Don’t be afraid to try them! Worst-case scenario, that particular medication isn’t right for you and you discontinue it. In most cases a combination of talk therapy and medications is tried.
If you are looking for resources that can assist you in finding or getting help, start here:
SAMHSA, which stands for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has a hotline that will connect you with treatment providers in your area. You can also get general information about mental health here.
The hotline number is 1-877-726-4727 (or 1-877-SAMHSA7, if that’s easier for you to remember.) The hotline is open Monday – Friday, 8am-8pm.
For emergency services, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The operators are trained crisis workers, and the conversation is confidential. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, every day. They can also refer you to a nearby treatment provider. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with mental health, please save the number to your phone in case of an emergency.
The hotline number is 1-800-273-8255 (or 1-800-273-TALK).
There is absolutely zero shame in needing to reach out for help! You wouldn’t be ashamed to need a cast if you broke your arm, and this is no different. Health is health is health, no matter the source of the issue.
Lime green awareness ribbons are used to raise awareness for many mental health categories. A few of the causes represented by lime green awareness ribbons are childhood mental health, maternal mental health, minority mental health, and mental health in a general sense. Lime green awareness ribbons are also used to raise awareness for mental illness, which I mention because in some cases mental health can contribute to mental illness, either positively or negatively. Mental health is crucial to our health, happiness, and success.
To order a customizable ribbon for Mental Health Awareness, visit:
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