Mental Health Month 2021 brings mental illness to the forefront
SAN DIEGO – The issue of mental illness has been pervasive in America for decades. So what better time could it be to bring this daunting social issue to the fore than during Mental Health Month 2021? Missed by much of the mainstream media was a key mental health proclamation issued by the Biden administration on April 30, 2021. But it was duly noted by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.
“‘A Proclamation on National Mental Health Awareness Month’ [recognized] May as National Mental Health Awareness Month. In addition, 34 states have released similar proclamations, declaring May as Mental Health Awareness Month statewide.”
Some mental health experts hypothesize that the onset of COVID-19 may cause mental illness cases to rise both now and in the future.
Surprisingly, the media has generally neglected to highlight the social costs of the now yearlong Covid-19 epidemic in the US and elsewhere. In addition to preexisting homelessness, i.e., pre-COVID homelessness, millions of Americans have either lost or seen reductions in their jobs, finances, housing, interconnectedness and activities. Losses of this magnitude can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts and other forms of mental illnesses.
“Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel and behave,” says MedicalNewsToday. Unsurprisingly, as we conclude Mental Health Month 2021, we can observe that an estimated 44 million adults and 17 million children in the United States experience bouts of mental illness each year, according to the California Department of Health Care Services.
“I found that with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone. You’re not the first to go through it; you’re not going to be the last to go through it.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines well-being as follows:
Development and activity.Emotional well-being.
Domain (relevance/purpose) specific satisfaction.
Engaging activities and work.
Essentially, a sense of mental health and mental well-being provides a framework for self-actualization. This, in turn, enables such individuals to contribute to the world around them. Further, it provides them with the ability to cope with life’s stressors. Additionally, those in a state of well-being have a normal ability to cope with everyday life with the absence of negative emotions.
But problematically, life balance and satisfaction during stressful times like the Covid-19 epidemic has tested all Americans. For many Americans, even those used to a sense of well-being, it might prove surprisingly easy to lose that sense entirely or at least in part.
During Mental Health Monthe 2021, look into warning signs of developing mental illness.
The late Robin Williams made the following remarkably candid and revealing observation.
“Beautiful fake smile. All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice how broken you really are.”
The initial signs indicating the onset or presence of mental illness may or may not be subtle. But if they persist in an individual, friends and family should not ignore them. “Let’s Talk About It,” an article published online at MentalHealth.gov, pinpoints some key warning signs of real or potential mental illness.
Eating or sleeping too much or too little.
Pulling away from people and usual activities.
Having low or no energy.
Feeling numb or like nothing matters.
Having unexplained aches and pains.
Feeling helpless or hopeless.
Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual.
Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared.
Yelling or fighting with family and friends.
Experiencing severe mood wings that cause problems in relationships.
Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head.
Hearing voices or believing things that are not true.
Thinking of harming yourself or others.
Inability to perform daily and routine tasks.
What to do if you know someone experiencing any of these mental health symptoms.
If either you or any one you know experiences any of the symptoms listed above, you or they should contact a mental health provider immediately and reach out for assistance. But in the meantime, the following links offer some useful advice in coping with this situation.
Mental Health America believes that accepting reality is a good first-step in maintaining positive emotional well-being.
Adapting to life’s good and not so good occurrences is a critical way for gaining perspective in a sound way.
The ability to effectively deal with anger and frustration will lead to greater internal harmony, and help prevent destructive behaviors towards oneself and/or others.
Getting out of thinking traps which can create a cycle of unending negativity which clouds recognizing what is positive and good.
Change is inevitable in life, there are some changes which are undesirable and need to be viewed with perspective for achieving serenity.
“What I would tell kids going through anxiety, which I have and can relate to, is that you’re so normal. Everyone experiences a version of anxiety or worry in their lives, and maybe we go through it in a different or more intense way for longer periods of time, but there’s nothing wrong with you.”
Free mental health testing availability during Mental Health Month 2021 and beyond.
Mental Health America provides free and simple mental health tests on its website for anyone to access and conduct a self-check. Significantly, most find this source easy to access, and it provides user-friendly guidance. The following mental health resources may also prove helpful:
1. 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK.
2. 24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline (800) 985-5990; or text TalkWithUs at 66746.
3. Veterans Crisis Line: (800) 273-8255; Press the number 1.
Shining light upon Mental Health Month 2021 offers an excellent opportunity for everyone to learn that they, their family and their friends can reach out and ask for help when experiencing mental health problems. Such outreach can help place life’s vicissitudes into perspective. Additionally, such mental health outreach may help troubled individuals learn to live with what may seem unthinkable, at least at any given time.
Change is a necessary part of being alive. Mental health could make this a positive experience.
Finally, whatever you may discover along the way, the path to wellness and mental health could potentially lead to a more peaceful and fulfilling life.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
About the Author:
Laurie Edwards-Tate is Communities Digital News senior health and aging specialist covering healthful eating, living, and aging information. Since 1984, Edwards-Tate has served as President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare, a non-medical Home Care Aide Organization, serving seniors, disabled, infirm, and children. Laurie is Board of Director 2018 (elected), Palomar Health; Executive Board Member; Chair Board Human Resources Committee; Member of Audits & Compliance Committee; Community Relations Committee.
—(Main image: Thanks to Kelly Repreza @kellyrepreza for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁