Mental Health Awareness Month: How You Can Make a Difference

Spring has sprung and this change of season brings upon us an important month of the year: Mental Health Awareness Month.

This May, we are joining the conversation by sharing how you can make a difference in mental health – for yourself and your loved ones. Our goal is to educate the public on mental health concerns and provide resources for people who may be struggling. 

It’s a fact: Every single one of us has mental health. The term ‘mental health’ relates to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. While we may not all share the same mental state, mental health issues can affect anyone – regardless of age, gender, or background. According to the World Health Organization, mental or neurological issues will affect one in four people in the world at some point in their lives.

Common mental health issues can include but aren’t limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Psychotic Disorders

Not all mental illnesses are permanent, they can be episodic and occur over a short period of time. These ‘invisible illnesses’ may occur due to underlying factors such as a major life event, an underlying medical condition, drug or alcohol use, or an adverse experience or trauma. (CDC) Treatment for mental health issues can include counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes. With support and treatment, a successful and fulfilling life is possible. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking help when needed is crucial.

Ways To Get Involved:

Speak up. One of the best ways to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month is to simply speak about it with your family, friends, and peers. When is the last time you had a casual conversation with friends or family about mental health? Possibly never. This month is a time to use your voice to speak about this crucial area of our wellbeing and talk about the emotional journey we all are on as individuals, together. The more you talk about it, the more normalized it will become.

Check in on your loved ones. Many people downplay how they really feel and suffer from mental health issues in silence. Take time this month to get back to the basics – lending an ear to listen or offering a shoulder to cry on to those around you. Your ‘strong’ friends and family members may actually be the ones that would value your concern for their wellbeing. Simply start by being present in conversations and take the time to ask, ‘how are you really doing?’. Offering emotional support that is judgment-free is worth much more than you think to those in need.

Use your digital voice. Use your social media channels to vocalize your thoughts and/or experience with mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has created the ‘More Than Enough’ campaign to raise awareness about this crucial month. Every single one of us is worthy of life, love, and healing — no matter what you look like, no matter your successes or failures, and no matter what you are (or aren’t) capable of doing. NAMI has created graphics to share on your social media pages and urging all social media users to share why you are #MoreThanEnough. NAMI shares, “We want every person out there to know that if all you did was wake up today, that’s more than enough. No matter what, you are inherently worthy of more than enough life, love, and healing. Showing up, just as you are, for yourself and the people around you is more than enough.” Use the following hashtags in your social media posts to join the digital conversation: #MoreThanEnough #MentalHealthAwareness, #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth, #MentalHealthMonth, and #MHM.

Practice self-care. Each and every day you know you need food, water, clothes, and shelter to survive…but what if you approached your mental and emotional well-being the same way? If you’re like most people, you tend to put the needs of others before your own. Integrating simple self-care habits into your daily routine can make a big difference in your mental health. For example, pay attention to your self-talk. Do you talk to yourself the same you would talk to a friend? More than likely you are more judgemental of yourself than you ever would be on another person. Avoid talking about yourself negatively. Positive thoughts shape a positive mood. Self-care can encompass your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Take time each and every day to work on making a simple change for your mental and emotional self.

Wear green! More than the ‘luck of the Irish’, Green represents the mental health struggle and awareness of this important initiative.

Help raise awareness of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline – This hotline exists to help those suffering from a suicidal crisis or emotional distress. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. Anyone in the midst of a crisis can receive life-saving, confidential help right away. This assistance is free and available 24/7. Additionally, there are dedicated counselors for LGBTQI+ youth, veterans, and mothers.

When we come together as a global community to raise awareness about a topic that we all, as individuals, deal with on a daily basis, we can reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. As this important month comes and goes, continue to raise awareness, promote understanding, and be an ally to those suffering from mental illness.

At Integrative Counseling Services, we are here to support you on your mental health journey. Call our main office at 570-955-5479 to learn how our services can make a difference.

If you’re experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, please dial 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Department. Help is available and professionals that are trained to help you navigate your current situation.

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