Recognizing Changes in Mental Health: May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? In the U.S. alone, 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health illness each year, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of mental illness have been at an all-time high, with suicide being the 2nd leading cause of death among those ages 10-34. What can you do to take care of your own mental health and help those who are struggling?
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is the state of one’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Regardless of the stage of life, mental health affects everyone and can determine how we act, think, and feel daily. There are many different mental health illnesses including:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Substance Abuse Disorders
- Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder
While these are some of the more prevalent mental health illnesses, there are many more which can adversely affect and alter one’s life. Being aware of mental health illness is the first step towards making a difference in the mental health crisis in the US.
What Does a Mental Health Illness Look Like?
Being able to recognize mental health changes in yourself or others makes it easier to get help early on before symptoms become severe. Changes in mental health can look very different depending on the individual but common warning signs of mental health illnesses include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Consistently feeling “down” or “worn out”
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Losing interest in social situations or activities
- Smoking, drinking, or using other addictive substances more than usual
- Severe mood swings
- Feeling hopeless or that nothing matters anymore
- Having thoughts of self-harm
- Worsening irritability, anger, or aggression
These are just a few of the many symptoms you may experience if you’re struggling with mental health. Recognizing these early warning signs is crucial to making the necessary changes towards a healthier you.
I Have Some of These Symptoms, Now What?
If you have one of these symptoms, you need to figure out ways to improve your mental health or get help. Here are a few suggestions to help improve your mental health:
- Get professional help by visiting your primary care doctor
- Connect with others
- Be physically active
- Get outdoors
- Get adequate and consistent sleep
- Eat healthy foods (see more about that here)
- Find a healthy coping mechanism such as journaling or meditation
If you feel your symptoms are more severe or you are having thoughts of self-harm, please go to your local emergency room or call the Suicide Hotline at (800)-273-8255.
Learn more about mental health by visiting some of our other articles on the topic:
- How Social Media Affects Your Mental Health
- An Introduction to Journaling
- Central Virginia Addiction and Recovery Resources
Mental Health Awareness Month is not about curing mental health illnesses but about bringing light to a very real issue in the U.S. Struggling with mental health is not something you should be ashamed of but rather something you should recognize and share. By being aware of the symptoms of mental health, you can help yourself or others make the necessary changes and get help in order to help end the mental health crisis in the US. If you are concerned about recent changes in your mental health, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.