May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Challenges with mental health have been more common now than ever as the pandemic has put stress and anxiety on millions of Americans. Understanding how to support your mental health is not only important for your overall wellbeing, but also for making sure you are utilizing the mental health benefits and resources included in your healthcare coverage plan.
To do our part to participate in the conversation about mental health, we wanted to share the importance of mental health awareness and highlight some of the many things that you can do to support your mental health, as well as ways that you can support others.
Clifford Whittingham Beers founded the National Mental Health Association in 1909 to raise awareness for the prominence of mental illness and the mistreatment of patients in institutions. Following his work, other organizations joined the cause toward efforts to find better treatment and to end the stigma around mental illness and disorders. His work was important toward increasing empathy and compassion for those experiencing mental illness and their families.
Mental Health Awareness Month was honored for the first time in 1949, and it was started to reduce the stigma around mental health as well as to spread the message that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Mental Health Awareness Month is observed each May, and the support and community created through open conversations about mental health have helped millions of people over the years. The initiative is more important now than ever as nearly 50 million Americans currently experience mental illness. Raising awareness and support through Mental Health Awareness Month is one of many ways we can all support each other.
Paying attention to your own mental health and practicing healthy habits in your routine can help to prevent a mental health crisis. There are many things that you can do to maintain good mental wellbeing, such as:
Your overall health and your mental health are closely related, so taking care of yourself can improve your mental health as well. Eating well, drinking lots of water, getting good sleep, and staying active are all great ideas that can help you feel better both mentally and physically.
Meditating is a good way to slow down your day and to practice breathing. Breathing techniques can help to reduce anxiety and to calm the mind, and meditating can also help with grounding yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed. Try observing your surroundings and identify your five senses to feel more present when you are feeling anxious in a stressful situation.
Spending time with friends and family can help remind you that you are never alone. Being involved in your community can give you a sense of purpose. Maintaining your social life can nurture a sense of belonging, so reaching out to others is a great way to keep from isolating yourself when you are feeling down.
Sometimes our lives can feel overwhelming for many reasons. Whether it’s work, school, family, or even current events, it is completely valid to feel out of control at times. It is important to know when to say no to commitments. There is nothing wrong with rescheduling plans when you need a break. Taking breaks can help to prevent burnout, and it is important to have a good balance with time for yourself to relax.
Paying attention to how you are feeling is very important to maintaining your mental health. When we can identify how we are feeling, it can be easier to process those emotions and use healthy coping skills to work through personal challenges. You may not know why you are feeling a certain way, and that is ok too. Respecting and validating your own feelings are the best things that you can do for yourself.
Always remember that you are never alone. Sometimes we can’t get better by ourselves, and that is something more people can relate to than you may realize. Asking for help when you need it is a strong and extremely important thing to do.
Mental Health Awareness Month is one of many initiatives centered around raising awareness and starting the conversation about mental health. Having an open conversation about mental health is essential to fighting and eliminating the stigma around mental illness. By fighting this stigma we all can make a difference and support others through whatever they may be going through.