May – Mental Health Month

May is mental health month and it can be a good time to increase your awareness of mental well-being and illness.  In researching this post I was amazed to find that Congress designated May as Mental Health Month in 1949.  They did so to recognize the importance of mental health issues to the overall health and well-being of American citizens then and in the future.

In recognition of the month’s focus the American Psychological Association (APA) has put together a blog on the topic in their Your Mind Your Body site. As stated on the APA’s Spotlight on Mental Health Month page “These activities are intended to help people recognize the importance of good mental health, overcome stigma and encourage the public to seek out professional mental health services when needed.”

Another organization Mental Health America, has also put together some useful resources for the month and to align with their focus on Pathways to Wellness.  The six points they put forward are:

  1. Wellness – it’s essential to living a full and productive life. It’s about keeping healthy as well as getting healthy.
  2. Wellness involves a set of skills and strategies that prevent the onset or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being. Wellness is more than just the absence of disease.
  3. Wellness is more than an absence of disease. It involves complete general, mental and social well-being. And mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being. The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.
  4. Whatever our situation, we are all at risk of stress given the demands of daily life and the challenges it brings-at home, at work and in life. Steps that build and maintain well-being and help us all achieve wellness involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness, and connections to family, friends and community.
  5. These steps should be complemented by taking stock of one’s well-being through regular mental health checkups and screenings. Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it’s a good idea to take periodic reading of our emotional well-being.
  6. Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one’s potential to lead a full and productive life. Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental health and substance use conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.

One of the most common forms of mental illness is depression. Depression affects more than an estimated 19 million people in the USA. Diagnosis needs to be made by a professional, but if you find yourself or someone you know exceedingly sad, anxious or in an ’empty’ mood for prolonged periods of time and on a regular basis you/they maybe suffering from depression. Help overcoming this form of mental illness can be obtained from a variety of professional sources including your local Catholic Charities, State Office of Mental Health, United Way among others.  If you are a veteran you can receive assistance from your local Veterans Administration Office. These as well as many other agencies also provide help for children suffering from bullying, substance abuse, sexual abuse, suicide prevention and the host of other mental health issues that hopefully never occur to our children.

…and as Paul Simon sang in  ‘Still crazy after all these years‘:

Four in the morning
Crapped out, yawning
Longing my life a–way
I’ll never worry
Why should I?
It’s all gonna fade…

…into another post written.


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Filed under Health, Parenting, School Safety

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