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Ways to Observe Mental Health Month

Mental Health America has designated May as Mental Health Month, and has led this annual observation since 1949. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are extremely prevalent in American society, with an estimated one in five people experiencing symptoms of mental illness at some point in their life. 

Even if you haven’t had to deal with this challenge yourself, it’s highly likely someone you care about has struggled with some form of mental health issue – especially recently, amid the nationwide health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, here are some ways to observe Mental Health Month 2020.

1. Check in With Yourself

Some symptoms of mental illness can sneak up on you. Contrary to what you may have seen depicted in popular media, not everyone with anxiety lives in constant fear and worry. By the same token, it’s possible to be depressed without experiencing the overwhelming sadness and hopelessness that often characterize this disorder. Some surprising symptoms of mental illness include:

  • Feeling more irritable or on edge than normal
  • Significant changes in eating, sleeping or hygiene habits
  • Turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol and drugs

If you are experiencing any of the above, on their own or in addition to typical symptoms such as mood swings and suicidal thoughts or actions, schedule a mental health checkup with your doctor or therapist. It may also be helpful to keep a written journal of your most worrisome symptoms so you can track their frequency, duration and intensity. 

2. Volunteer to Help Others With Their Mental Health 

Organizations that specialize in mental health advocacy can always use a helping hand with their outreach. This Mental Health Month, look for local groups that champion mental health causes, such as your state’s suicide prevention network or a nearby homeless shelter, and ask how you can get involved. Particularly during the unprecedented circumstances this pandemic has created, everyone can use a little extra human connection and kindness.

3. Pledge to Be Stigma-Free

While our society has made many strides toward destigmatizing mental illness, there is still a lot of progress we can and should try to make to end the everyday discrimination people with mental disorders face. Living with a mental illness is challenging enough without friends, relatives, colleagues and neighbors being constantly judgmental or thinking of someone as “less than” if they have common issues such as bipolar disorder or PTSD. The National Alliance on Mental Illness created the StigmaFree campaign to help reframe how we view and discuss mental health, and to create more awareness and acceptance around the topic. 

A Safe Place to Seek Help

Mental illness and substance misuse disorders often go hand in hand — a phenomenon known as a dual diagnosis. This complex condition requires comprehensive treatment plans to address successfully. At Vista Taos, we believe it is possible for anyone to put an active addiction behind them, even if they simultaneously need to learn how to manage a mental illness. Your health and safety are our utmost priorities. Contact us to learn more.

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