Celebrate May Mental Health Month
Mental Health and You
Millions of Americans suffer from mental health conditions. One in five adults suffer from a mental health disorder every year. Unfortunately, two thirds do not seek treatment. It is important to check in with yourself to see how you are doing mentally and to know when you need to take a mental break to take care of yourself.
What is mental health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also affects how we handle stress and relate to others, and, if our mental health is poor, we may not make healthy choices.
Although the terms are often confused, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same things. A person can have poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. On the other hand, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can have periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.
What is mental illness?
A mental illness has ongoing signs and symptoms that affect your ability to function. Mental illness can affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior. Mental illnesses can occur every once in a while, or they can be long-lasting (also known as chronic). They may affect your ability to relate to others and function in daily life.
Disorders vary widely in type and severity. Some examples are:
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Addictive behaviors
Symptoms can include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confusion or problems concentrating
- Extreme mood changes
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Trouble coping with daily problems or stress
- Alcohol or drug abuse
If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental illness, see your PCP or a mental health specialist.
What are the causes of mental illness?
Signs and symptoms vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances, and other factors. They may be caused by many genetic and environmental factors such as:
- Inherited traits
- Environmental exposures before birth
- Brain chemistry
Why is mental health important for overall health?
Mental and physical health are both important to overall health. Mental illness, especially depression, raises the risk for many other health problems. These can include stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
How can we prevent mental illness?
There’s no sure way to prevent it. But if you have a mental illness, taking steps to control stress and boost self-esteem may help, as well as:
- Paying attention to warning signs.
- Taking care of your physical health. Don't skip your checkups.
- Getting help when you need it. Don’t wait until your symptoms worsen.
- Taking good care of yourself. Sleep, healthy eating, and activity are important for your mental health.
How can taking a mental health day help?
Stress plays a big role in mental health, so it’s important to find ways to relax. Spending time with loved ones or practicing stress-reducing activities can lessen anxiety and improve your ability to perform daily functions. Try these techniques:
- Deep breathing
Get started today! Call your provider and take control of your mental health.