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May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

As we come upon the middle of May, I find myself reflecting on what this month means. We have all seen the memes that say how invisible illnesses are often ignored, and that includes mental health. Did you know that according to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 1 in 5 people live with a mental health issue? Think about it – of every five people you know, at least one has struggled with mental health. Wow! And here we all are, living, surviving, and thriving! With it being Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I would use this post to give you some facts about mental health, as well as some ways to cope when our brains don’t quite feel like cooperating.

There are a lot of mental health issues, and they range from minor to major, but they all affect life in some way. NAMI categorizes mental health into two categories: Any Mental Health (AMI), which is a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, and it can range from hardly any impact to daily life to serious impairment, and Serious Mental Illness (SMI) which is a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder which interferes with life activities because of its severity. It all sound pretty complicated, huh? Most of those 1 in 5 falls into the AMI category, which means that it may impact our day a bit (or even a lot), but it is not a daily occurrence that makes it hard to work or take care of ourselves.

Well, now that we got the boring stuff out of the way, how can we celebrate Mental Health Month? We all know my favorite answer: SELF-CARE! A healthy diet, a good sleep schedule, exercise, and getting fresh air and sun all really easy ways to boost mental health, and even in the middle of the quarantine they are all things we can do. Another way to beat the blues is by having a daily routine; it can help your brain get into a schedule and also has been shown to help when facing problems. Just remember – it takes some time to rewire our brains and get used to new routines and behaviors, sometimes months, so don’t give up! You got this! Click here to get some great tips on routine making and changing.

Remember that whatever you are feeling is valid. It is so important to remind yourself that no feeling is “bad” (no matter what you’ve heard), and it’s when we shove those feelings down that they tend to eventually explode. Let yourself feel whatever emotion comes up without judgment and talk it through with your therapist or a trusted person in your life. Journaling is another great way to get feelings out. Ask your therapist for tips on how to create your very own therapy journal!

Remember we are all in this together. 1 in 5 – that is a huge number. People you may think are happy and well-adjusted may be the opposite of that…you just never know. A smile or kind word is sometimes all it takes. Getting help with mental health is nothing to be ashamed about – we take care of our bodies, so why shouldn’t we be taking care of our emotions? And more than anything else, be kind to yourself.

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