Since 1949, May has been designated Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. Awareness of mental health conditions is extremely important, as approximately 20% of the US population has some form of mental illness, the most common being depression or anxiety related conditions. The prevalence of mental illness is common in children as well as adults, and can affect–or be affected by–other physical health conditions. According to statistics “Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.”
It is crucial that people experiencing symptoms related to mental health seek treatment (only around half of the individuals with mental illness receive treatment currently for their mental illnesses).
This year’s focus on mental health is centered on animal companionship and support animals. Learn more about this year’s theme by visiting Mental Health Month.
Diabetes- people who are diagnosed with diabetes are at greater risk of depression, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions. The fear of managing diabetes and maintaining a consistent healthy blood sugar can cause stress, anxiety, and compulsive behaviors. When blood sugar is too high or too low, it can also lead to fatigue, foggy thinking, and anxious thoughts. If you have diabetes and are learning how to take care of your health, please speak with your doctor about your mental health as well.
Heart Disease- like diabetes, heart disease will affect general mental health for the same reasons–stress and worry. Likewise, people who experience depression are often at greater risk of heart disease due to unhealthy behaviors, including poor nutritional choices and excessive consumption of alcohol. Keep your heart and your brain healthy by speaking with your doctor about your mental and emotional health and seeking counseling if depression is causing unhealthy or dangerous choices.
Caregivers- Caregiver month is officially recognized in November, but it is important to emphasize the mental health strain on people who care for loved ones experiencing medical health conditions. Caregivers often experience increased levels of stress and anxiety and often feel unprepared for the roles they have taken. It is important for caregivers to take time for their own mental and physical health and seek counseling or support groups to help them in their roles.
If you are experiencing mental or emotional distress, please know there are resources available for support.
In the event of an emergency–if your life or someone else’s is at risk– please call 911.
If you are experiencing mental distress or suicidal thoughts, the suicide hotline is available at 1-800-273-8255. They also have an online chat available for those who prefer to speak to someone via text. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
The Trevor Project is focused on assisting youth/teens who identify as LGBTQ+ and can be reached at 1-866-488-7386. They also have a chat feature on their site.
For more information on mental health and ways to boost mental health, see http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may
Note: The information in this post is for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or counselor for advice regarding your specific needs.
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/mental-health-psychology-psychiatry-2313428/