May is Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, the perfect time for us to focus and reflect on our mental well-being. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), "More than 1 in 5 US adults live with a mental illness [and] over 1 in 5 youth (ages 13-18) either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness," revealing how important proper mental health awareness is.
Despite recent progress, there is still a significant amount of stigma associated with mental health, which prevents people from seeking assistance when they need it. Raising awareness can make it easier for people to get support as it removes stigma and increases understanding. This blog will discuss the history of mental health, how to take care of your mental health, and resources to use if you want to learn more or are having trouble with your mental health.
History & Stigma
Mental illness has been viewed and treated in a variety of ways throughout history. In ancient times, it was accepted that mental illness occurred due to possession by demons or condemnations from gods. Inhumane treatments like exorcisms and trepanning—a surgical procedure that involves drilling a hole in the skull to release evil spirits—were frequently used as a result of these beliefs.
Mental illness was not recognized as a medical condition that could be treated with compassion and understanding until the 19th century. In fact, the first Mental Health Awareness Week was celebrated in 1949, and the National Institute of Mental Health was established in 1955. These massive improvements in the mental health care industry were made possible with the work of early psychiatrists, such as Philippe Pinel and William Tuke, and hardworking activists like Dorothea Dix, who advocated for the humane treatment of those with mental illness.
Despite these advancements, there is still a significant amount of stigma associated with mental illness today, particularly given the negative media portrayals of these conditions. The fear of being judged or labeled as "crazy" prevents many people from seeking assistance. This stigma can be especially damaging for people of color and members of other marginalized communities, who may face additional barriers to accessing mental health care. In order to make receiving medical attention less overwhelming, it is essential to keep spreading awareness and eradicating the stigma associated with it.
Tips For Taking Care of Your Mental Health
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. It involves taking steps to reduce stress and improve mental well-being. Some tips for reducing stress include…
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is crucial for mental health, and getting enough of it can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety; aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule can help you fall asleep faster. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Exercise. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve mood. Whether you go to the gym, jump rope, or take a relaxing walk, exercising can release endorphins (which make you feel good). Overall, make sure to listen to your body! Maintaining your physical health can help improve your mental health, so don't push yourself too hard if you do not feel up to it.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve overall well-being.
- Connect with others. Social support is important for mental health. Make time to connect with friends and family, join a support group, or seek professional help and talk to a therapist.
- Take a break to do something you love. It's important to take breaks throughout the day to recharge and reduce stress. Take a walk, read a book, or do something else that you enjoy.
- Improve your diet. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, and limit caffeine and alcohol intake. These steps can help your physical and mental health.
These are steps anyone can take to help reduce or improve their mental well-being. Still, it is important to seek professional help if you are experiencing symptoms of mental illness to learn methods for managing symptoms, especially in cases where there is no cure, such as dissociative identity disorder, OCD, or bipolar disorder.
If you are struggling with your mental health, it's important to seek help. Here are some resources that you can use:
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) - NIMH is a government organization that conducts research on mental health and provides information and resources for people with mental illness. They offer information on mental health disorders, treatments, and clinical trials.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - NAMI is a national organization that provides support and resources for people with mental illness and their families. They offer a helpline, support groups, and educational resources.
- Mental Health America - Mental Health America is a national organization that provides information, resources, and support for people with mental illness. They offer a screening tool to help you assess your mental health, as well as information on mental health disorders and treatments.
Keep in mind that asking for help shows strength rather than weakness. You are not alone in this, and there are resources available to assist you. Mental Health Awareness Month is the ideal chance to reflect on our mental well-being. Keep in mind that it's okay to not be okay.
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