Since 1949, the Mental Health Awareness Organization has recognized May as National Mental Health Month. The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of mental illness, decrease the stigma surrounding poor mental health, and increase knowledge of resources in the community.
Why is Mental Health Important?
People may expect those with poor mental health to look visibly different from others, but it affects many in your everyday life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults, 43.8 million individuals, experiences mental illness in a given year. Of those 43.8 million, it’s estimated that 9.8 million will experience a serious mental illness that interferes with their daily life.
Everyone experiences anxiety. However, when feelings of intense fear and distress are overwhelming and prevent us from doing daily activities, an anxiety disorder may be the reason. Nearly 42 million Americans live with an anxiety disorder and approximately 16 million Americans live with major depression. In fact, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Research conducted by Mental Health America (MHA) found that chronic stress increases your risk of developing anxiety and depression and can also increase your risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Given there there are still widespread misunderstandings about mental illness, many people don't seek treatment or remain unaware that their symptoms could be connected to a mental health condition. Choosing the right mix of support and treatments is an important step in the recovery process.
Staying Healthy Mentally
This year’s National Mental Health Month campaign is #4Mind4Body and focuses on engaging in health and wellness activities to improve mental health. Strategies include animal companionship, the use of humor, social connection and recreation, spirituality and religion, and a work-life balance.
Another strategy to improve mental health is mindfulness. Mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. There are many ways to increase one’s mindfulness including meditation, guided imagery, and yoga. According to MHA, spending 14 minutes or one percent of your day practicing mindfulness may be enough to notice changes in your daily life. Devoting attention to intentional awareness of your breath and body can help bring balance to your daily life and may help you become less emotionally reactive.
As with other serious illnesses, mental illness is not your fault or that of the people around you. For more information regarding mental illness, you can utilize our free and confidential mental health screening tool below. If you are taking steps to improve your mental health and find that you need support, our team of dedicated therapists are here to help. To learn more, call our toll-free number at 833-444-NEST (6378) to schedule an appointment.