Hitting the mark with awareness
A boxer may go several rounds before hitting the opponent with a knock-out punch. It’s the culmination of months of training and work. But we all know that anything worth having is worth fighting for.
Since 1949, communities across the nation have been fighting in May for Mental Health Awareness Month. May 18-24 is also observed as Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is kindness.
“Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community, and deepens solidarity,” notes the Mental Health Foundation, which designated the theme for 2020. “It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.”
This foundation, along with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the American Psychological Association, all recognize that millions of people in the United States are affected by mental illness every year. Together with community-based organizations, such as HopeHealth, they work to promote mental wellness while helping to decrease factors that may cause or worsen mental health issues.
Balance is required for good mental health. Healthy nutrition, shelter, sleep, exercise, and hygiene are all basic needs and help maintain positive mental health. If support is needed, it is ok. Community awareness, social connections, emotional support, self-management, treatment, and, in some cases, prescribed medications are all vital tools to maintain balance.
Support from others also helps. Telling someone that they are not alone, that their mental health matters, in addition to sharing that you are concerned, can be pivotal for helping build positive mental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the mental health of many people nationwide in a short time. This can present as emotional stressors, including:
a negative change in one’s self worth.
feelings of inadequacy.
These are all normal responses to traumatic experiences and many people are making sudden adjustments for their family while facing job insecurity or unemployment, social distancing, changes in routine, sickness, and death.
Such sudden changes are notable factors for a negative effect on mental health and can all throw off our mental health balance. COVID-19 has caused a lot of change in our lives.
In fact, a March 20-25 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed 72 percent, or seven in 10, Americans said their lives have been disrupted “a lot” or “some” by the coronavirus outbreak. This is 32 percent more than the same poll conducted just two weeks earlier.
Awareness, making healthy decisions, good food, taking charge of stability, exercise, sleep, medication compliance, and connecting with others are all punches that can help knock out the symptoms of mental illness. The benefits of taking care of your mental health are worth the challenge of change and the fight for total wellness.
So, as we focus on Mental Health Awareness May, let’s unite in the fight for total wellness. Take some time to be kind, tell someone, “you are not alone,” and wear a green ribbon to show your support.