Mental Health Awareness Month

Welcome to the month of May! As we welcome in the Spring season and all the refreshing beauty that it brings, we often find the motivation to do some freshening up around us. We clean out our closets, we dust and air out our homes, opening the windows after a long, snowy… well rainy… winter. Many of us renew a common New Year’s Resolution around this time of year to eat better, get more exercise and spend more time with friends. We assess the situation - what needs to change in our daily living to accomplish our goals?

I’d like to recommend one more thing to add to your Spring ritual as we move into Mental Health Awareness Month this May. Along with being conscientious of physical health, it is equally important to be aware of our mental health needs. Whether it is a recent experience of not really feeling like yourself, or you have a longer history of symptoms indicating a mental health diagnosis, finding support that meets your individual needs will be a great benefit to you and, ultimately your quality of life.

In fact, one in five Americans suffer from a mental health condition that affects their emotional and behavioral wellbeing. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t end up accessing the support they need. One common barrier is the stigma related to acknowledging mental health needs. The message we often hear around us is that mental illness is something that needs to be hidden, or to handle it on our own.

The reason Mental Health Awareness Month exists is to encourage all of us to understand mental health and increase access to support services. We can all do our part to change the message we are sending in our society about mental health by continuing to educate ourselves about mental health conditions, and how to respond to those living with a mental health condition – with compassion and understanding.

Support services are available to individuals and their loved ones experiencing a mental health condition through assessments to determine a diagnosis, individual and family therapy, support groups and support hotlines, and psychiatric care. If you, or someone you know can benefit from additional support, or if you’re feeling like something is wrong and you need help, you are not alone and there is help available. Reach out to family members, friends, your primary care doctor, or a Community Mental Health Agency, such as Family Service Association, to share your concerns. Move into this new season with the knowledge that your mental health matters.

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