Heath and Mind: Mental Health Month

Published 3:46 pm Friday, May 20, 2022

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By Shaundra King

HANDS Supervisor

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.

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Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.

Mental health can change over time, depending on many factors. When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted. For example, if someone is working long hours, caring for a relative, or experiencing economic hardship, they may experience poor mental health.

Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.

More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. One in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year. One in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness. one in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.

There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as:

• Early adverse life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse.

• Experiences related to other ongoing medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes.

• Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain.

• Use of alcohol or drugs.

• Having feelings of loneliness or isolation.

However, there are healthy ways you can cope with stress, such as:

• Taking deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.

• Eating healthy, well-balanced meals.

• Being physically active.

• Getting plenty of sleep

• Choosing not to drink alcohol, or drinking in moderation.

• Avoid misusing prescription opioids and avoid using illicit opioids.

• Avoid smoking and the use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. People can and do quit smoking for good.

• Continuing with routine preventive measures including vaccinations, cancer screenings, and other tests recommended by a healthcare provider.

• Making time to unwind. Try to do activities you enjoy.

• Connecting with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

• Connecting with your community- or faith-based organizations.

You can get help

Free and confidential crisis resources can help you or a loved one connect with a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text ‘MHA’ to 741741. You can also visit the following websites for more information:

Mental Health America: https://mhanational.org/get-involved/contact-us

Suicide Crisis Lines: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines

Suicide Prevention Lines: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/