May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which started in America in 1949 and was founded by the Mental Health America Organization. I would like to share with you what it’s all about as well as some tips about how to take care of our mental health.
Mental Health Conditions are Common
Mental health conditions in the U.S. are very common. In 2020, nearly one in five adults, or 52.9 million people were living with a mental illness of some kind. But it’s not limited to adults; 17% of young people between 16-17 have a mental health disorder, 19% of American adults suffer from anxiety disorders, and 44% of LGBTQ+ adults are likely to experience mental illness.
Mental illness covers many conditions, including ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, PTSD, and schizophrenia. If you’re not feeling like your normal self, some signs and symptoms include constant worrying or fear, suicidal thoughts, severe mood changes, and trouble concentrating and learning.
Mental health conditions can also affect young children. Some symptoms and signs to look out for include constant nightmares, aggression, and temper tantrums, as well as excess worrying or fearfulness.
How to Manage Mental Health
There are many ways to treat mental illness, and the first thing to do – if you have the resources – is talk to a mental health expert. Seeking mental health professionals is helpful, as is psychotherapy, or “talk therapy.” This is when a person talks to a therapist in a safe environment to understand their feelings and behaviors, and learn coping methods.
Coping methods include arriving early so you don’t worry about being late, taking deep breaths, asking for help, and creating clear boundaries, like setting time for yourself and saying “no” to things if you need to.
Mental health medications and psychosocial treatments, which examine someone’s psychological development and the way they handle their social environment, can also help. Talk therapy and access to mental health professionals can be out of reach for some, but the City of New York is working to close that gap.
You can also make time for friends and family and nourish your joys in life like walking outside, going to plays or concerts, gardening, playing sports, and listening to music.
I have a friend who has bipolar disorder, and she has shared her challenges with me. Needless to say, mental health conditions are a common problem in the United States. But if we learn how to handle them well, we can help other people, as well as each other.