Make the Most Out of Mental Health Awareness Month
There’s no time like the present. That goes for so many things: deciding to go for a run or make that impulse buy that you totally won’t regret in the future. Then you get to the more important things, such as your mental health.
We all deserve a moment to ourselves and reflect on how we’re doing. A simple moment of clarity can be enough to take on the day.
That’s what National Mental Health Awareness Month is all about. The month of May is dedicated to the importance of mental health, reminding us that mental health is a vital part of your overall health.
Several aspects of your life impact your mental health in both big and subtle ways. Whether it’s going to therapy, taking up a meditation routine, or simply going for a walk, here’s how you can make the most out of National Mental Health Awareness Month.
Mental Health Awareness Month came to be in 1949 with the intent to “increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives, and to celebrate recovery from mental illness,” according to Youth.gov.
In recent years, state and federal governments and public health organizations have taken greater strides to help treat mental illness. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, raising awareness helps patients lead healthier and more informed lifestyles.
You don’t have to hold a rally or host a public event to commemorate National Mental Health Awareness Month. Just like with self-care, it often begins and ends with one person.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offer several resources that help raise awareness about the importance of mental health.
From knowing the basics of mental health to learning about behavioral health equity, SAMHSA’s Mental Health Awareness Month page has invaluable resources for yourself and others.
And that’s the other thing about raising awareness: you can spread it too. We all have different levels of mental health. Likewise, we all have different levels of awareness when it comes to it.
Share these resources with a friend. You sometimes never know when you have a friend in need.
Holidays are perfect times to celebrate. The thing about holidays, however, is that they’re just a day long. A holi-month, on the other hand? That’s just what the doctor ordered.
There are several ways to improve your mental health. Some cases require professional supervision, and these suggestions are not a valid substitute for that.
If you or a loved one is going through any difficulties regarding their mental health, seek or urge them to seek the help of a professional, whether that’s a doctor or independent pharmacist.
You can celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month in many ways. In some cases, you don’t have to do anything at all.
Social media is undoubtedly the biggest and most modern contributor to mental illness.
A 2022 multi-country Frontiers survey found that users who used social media to lessen feelings of loneliness and depression during the pandemic were associated with poorer mental health.
Totally logging off from social media is a monumental ask, especially for those who rely on socials for their job (like journalists and broadcasters).
You likely use social media a little too much. Even a little bit of internet indulgence can have damaging effects on your mental health. Using social media is directly associated with dopamine release.
You already know this song and dance: the more you check social media, the less potent that dopamine becomes. It perpetuates the cycle of constantly checking your feed to get that brief hit of dopamine.
This cycle leads to less productivity, greater frustration, shorter attention spans, and worsening mental health.
The best course of action is to moderate your social media use. Try to restrict your use to only a few times a day. A starting point is to check your feeds once an hour.
It seems like a monumental task but is very doable with some discipline and some productivity resources — like the trusty Pomodoro timer.
There are few more sacred things in life than your free time. The time before and after your workday is a hugely valuable commodity that you can never get back.
Let’s focus on the beginning of your day. The alarm is blaring, waking you up from a — hopefully — restful sleep. Your first impulse likely is to check your phone and casually scroll through your email or social media feeds.
Though it seems harmless on the surface, checking your phone first thing in the morning primes you up for a day full of restlessness and distractions.
Your mind needs to ease itself after sleeping for a long period of time. Wake up, drink a glass of water, read a book, and do a brief morning meditation. This would also be the perfect time to check up on your indoor plant.
Start the day like you would a run: relaxed and easy, gradually picking up pace as you go along. Use National Mental Health Awareness Month to start some truly mindful and mentally healthy routines. We could use a little bit of quiet in this loud world.
Loneliness and mental illness often go hand in hand. Feelings of isolation are often linked with depression and anxiety, according to Mental Health America.
A post-pandemic world pushes this feeling even further, making reaching out to others more important than ever.
Reach out to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Catch up with them, whether it means meeting up at a coffee shop or a Zoom call.
Have a strong support system. It can be in the form of your family or close friends. What matters is that you have a support system to help you in times of need. Use National Mental Health Day to take stock of what truly matters in your life.
Remember that you never have to go at it alone, especially when it comes to your mental health. We’re bound to feel lonely and sad every now and then, but what matters is how we handle it.
That’s at the core of National Mental Health Awareness Month. Reach out to an old friend, or a trusted family member, or seek the guidance of a medical professional. Help comes in all shapes and sizes.
So get off your phone for a while, especially during the day, do a brief meditation practice, water that plant, and reach out to others whenever you need it. Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month by knowing you’re never alone.