Mental Health Awareness Monday

October 18, 2020

By Haley Martinsen

 

What is Mental Health Awareness Month?

In 1949, Mental Health America (MHA) launched Mental Health Week, which turned into Mental Health Month.  Clifford W. Beers founded the organization in 1909, with the help of William James and Adolf Meyer, after he experienced the “maltreatment of people with mental illnesses and to reform care.”  

According to Mental Health America, the organization’s goals evolved to the following:

  1. To improve attitudes toward mental illnesses and people living with mental health conditions
  2. To improve services for people with mental health conditions
  3. To work for the prevention of mental illnesses and the promotion of mental health

Today, there are many organizations dedicated to reducing stigma surrounding mental health and barriers to care.  The largest organizations include MHA, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).  Many organizations are nonprofits dedicated to providing educational resources, hold awareness events, advocate for the members of the community and offer support and resources for members of the community (ranging from how to help a loved one to therapy, recovery and support).

Why is mental health awareness important?

1 in 5 Americans suffer a mental illness.  The chances are, you have a loved one that is mentally ill, or know someone who is.  According to swhelper.org, awareness is an important form of education and they key for “understanding what mental health is and how families can receive the help they need.”  To understand mental health you can eliminate stigma, bias and help our loved ones receive early intervention and proper care.

You Are Not Alone NAMI Infographic

 

Why is mental health important? 

Mental health is just as important as physical health.  From a young age, mental health affects how we think, feel and act.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says mental health determines how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices.  It’s important to note that mental health and mental illness are not the same thing.  If someone has poor mental health, this does not necessarily mean they have a mental illness and vice versa.  Educating people on the difference between these will help decrease stigma surrounding mental illness and help people become advocates.  

Ways to boost your mental health:

Take a break

You can’t be on all the time.  It’s important to take breaks throughout the day to take some time for yourself.  This might be spending an hour to cook a nice dinner, taking a hot shower or bath, yoga, or going for a walk.  Different things work for everyone and especially during quarantine, it’s important to step away from your computer and do something for your mental health.

Positive thinking

It’s hard to have a positive outlook on everything, but reframing negative thoughts is important for our mental health.  Instead of saying, “I didn’t do well on that presentation,” reframe your thought to “I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, but I’ll improve for next time.”

Do something kind for someone

It may seem small, but acts of kindness for others help boost your mood.  Try texting a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile, making dinner for a roommate, or supporting a local business!

Exercise

Endorphins!!!  I know you’ve heard it a million times, but endorphins boost your mood.  Even if it’s just for ten minutes a day, working out can make a huge positive impact on your mental (and physical) health.  If you need a workout buddy or some motivation, read my article about Fitness Apps to Try in Quarantine!

Healthy eating

It’s important to eat well balanced meals rich in protein, Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and moderate amounts of carbohydrates.  For more information about how to keep a well balanced diet and foods to stock up on during your next Trader Joe’s visit, head to Healthline.

Healthy Salad Jar

Get enough sleep

Especially if you’re notorious for having a messy sleep schedule, getting adequate amounts of sleep will help your mental health.  If I don’t get eight hours a night, I find that I’m irritable and constantly hangry.  It might seem easier said than done, but work on finding a regular routine to help regulate your sleep schedule!

How to get involved:

Here are some ways you can get involved to make a difference!

  1. Post on social media with the #NotAlone hashtag to raise awareness and contribute to the campaign
  2. Share your story on the National Alliance of Mental Health’s website
  3. Visit Choosing Therapy here for a list of 30 mental health organizations and charities to learn more or donate!

Not Alone Campaign Banner