Thanks to years of public outreach and education, our culture is much more aware of mental health issues and more willing than ever to openly discuss them. But with 1 in 5 adults experiencing a mental health issue each year and less than half receiving help, there is still room for improvement. That’s why we put extra emphasis on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Throughout May, it’s a time to focus on our own mental health and those around us. As the head of a nonprofit that focuses on mental health, it’s also a time to reflect on the progress we’ve made as a culture in recognizing that mental health is a critical component of overall wellness. The stigma around acknowledging and speaking about mental health issues continues to fade. However, we must continue to push forward because improving mental health changes and saves lives and strengthens communities.
According to Mental Health America, more than half of people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. Having the tools, insight, and acceptance to get help will ensure better outcomes for ourselves and other people in our lives. Here are some ways you can help:
1. Self-Care—Start by helping yourself.
· Eat well
· Get enough sleep
· Set goals and priorities
· See friends
2. Recognize the Signs—Mental health issues are not always easy to recognize. Here are a few signs to be aware of:
· Excessive worrying or fear
· Feeling abnormally sad or low
· Confusion or difficulty concentrating
· Extreme mood changes
· Avoiding friends and social activities
· Thoughts of suicide
3. Educate—One of the biggest ways to help is to make sure loved ones and friends know there is a quick way to connect: 988, the new three-digit number to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline that links people with trained crisis counselors. PRS answers 988, along with regional crisis lines, for most of Virginia—including Northern Virginia—and is also a national 988 back-up center and 988 chat/text center for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. If someone in crisis reaches out, trained PRS crisis counselors will provide emotional support and work collaboratively with the caller, chatter or texter and community partners, when appropriate, to connect them to services and resources.
4. Volunteer—Community mental health nonprofits have many volunteer needs, such as organizing fundraisers and drives, helping clients and workers, answering hotline calls, and more.
5. Donate—Ensuring more people get the help they need to overcome mental health challenges requires funding and donating to mental health nonprofits helps us meet critical needs.
Let’s celebrate our progress this May. Do so by prioritizing mental health for yourself, your loved ones, and the community.