May is Mental Health Awareness Month 

Why does Mental Health Matter?

  • Mental Health encompasses your psychological, emotional, and social well-being.
  • Caring for your mental health is essential because it impacts your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and behaviors. In turn, this affects every single aspect of your life and your overall quality of life.
  • To maintain your physical health, it requires eating nourishing foods, getting enough sleep, and being physically active. Similarly, cultivating positive mental health takes a consistent, intentional effort in a variety of areas.
  • Mental health can be viewed on a spectrum: When you are experiencing positive mental health, you can realize your full potential, cope with stress, regulate emotions, experience resiliency, and engage in life fully. When you are experiencing low mental health, you may have mental health symptoms or a diagnosis, which makes it harder to navigate daily life, maintain your work productivity, daily activities and hygiene, and your relationships.

Mental Health Disorders

  • Mental health disorders affect millions worldwide, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity.
  • About 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness each year.
  • Many mental health disorders emerge during childhood or adolescence, with around 50% of all mental disorders beginning by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
  • Mental health disorders are treatable!
  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses worldwide, with an estimated 284 million people affected.
  • Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of disability, affecting over 264 million people.
  • About 46.8 million Americans have experienced a substance use disorder in the last year.

5 Effective Strategies for Improving Your Mental Health:

  1. Prioritize Self-Care: Taking care of yourself and creating a life of balance is crucial for maintaining good mental health. This includes taking care of your physical body, making time for activities you enjoy, allowing yourself regular breaks, and speaking to yourself with respect and kindness.
  2. Seek Social Support: Building and maintaining strong social connections have a profound impact on mental health. It’s important to spend time with supportive friends and family. Connecting with others can provide emotional support, reduce feelings of loneliness, and increase resilience to stress. If you want to grow your social support network, try to open up more with your colleagues, friends, family, or members of a community you may belong to (e.g. church, gym, club, therapy group).
  3. Manage Stress: Stress is a part of life, but chronic stress will negatively impact your physical and mental health. Practicing stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or mindful movement (e.g. yoga, walking) will help. Managing stress also includes setting boundaries, prioritizing tasks, and saying no.
  4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindful movement can help reduce stress, increase self-awareness, and improve emotional regulation. Having a regular meditation practice has been shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and PTSD, and improve relationships.
  5. Seek Professional Help: When you are experiencing significant mental health challenges, feeling stuck, or someone who cares about you recommends it, seeking support help from a mental health therapist is important. Therapy is incredibly effective in reducing symptoms, creating hope, and improving your quality of life.

Written by Jennifer Martin, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Gainesville, FL at Sage Wellness.

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