May is Mental Health Awareness Month and has been observed in the United States since 1949. During this month, millions of people receive positive educational messaging surrounding mental well-being through different sources, including social media, local events, and screenings.
In May, many national organizations work to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and stop the stigma associated with these illnesses. Mental well-being can be a difficult topic to discuss, but mental illness is just like many other medical conditions – it is treatable and should be discussed.
There are many factors that can impact mental well-being, including work stress, divorce, or financial issues. Mental illness may affect a coworker, friend, or family member, so it is important to be aware and know how and where to get help.
Here are a few preventive measures to maintain mental well-being:
Self-Care: Take an active role in protecting your well-being and happiness. This will look different for every individual and could include exercise, healthy eating, social outings, or even learning a new language or skill.
Yearly Physical and Health Screenings: To identify any concerns related to mental well-being, see a primary care provider for yearly physical exams and mental health screenings.
Workplace Culture: Help contribute to a workplace culture that emphasizes work-life balance and encourages seeking help when people are struggling.
Mindfulness Practices: Engage in mindfulness practices and exercises that support mental health. Apps to consider: Smiling Mind, Headspace, and BetterHelp. Click here for other helpful apps.
Interpersonal Support Network: Create an interpersonal support network that includes healthy and appropriate relationships with family, friends, coworkers, etc. Relationships can be a great resource and contribute to feeling safe and secure.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a well-researched and effective therapy for anxiety and depression, among other conditions. There are many internet or app-based CBT programs. CBT helps individuals become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking. This helps individuals view challenging situations more clearly and respond to circumstances in a more effective way. Click here to view a few popular books on cognitive behavioral therapy.
Self-Help Books: Recommended self-help books for anxiety and depression:
- Mind Over Mood
- Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life
- The Anxiety and Worry Workbook
Therapist or Counselor: When additional treatment is recommended by your primary care provider, be sure to connect with your insurance carrier for a list of covered providers and contact a therapist or counselor right away.
Beyond these suggested resources, ongoing lifestyle changes (sleep, exercise, diet), self-care, social intervention, and education support overall mental well-being. It is important to seek help from a trained professional when needed. Being a compassionate listening ear is a helpful and effective way to provide support to anyone who may be struggling. It is also a great idea to program the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number in your phone: 800-273-TALK (8255).