May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  This month, the National Alliance for Mental Health has a theme for 2021, and that theme is “You are not Alone.”  

Mental Health Awareness Month is about raising awareness around ways in which people can access support around their mental health to better identify, understand and educate themselves on where they are at in their mental health, and how they can gain the tools and support needed moving forward.  

According to the national council website – https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/mental-health-month/

Here are some data points you can use to speak to the scope of mental health:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year.
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.

It may be safe to say we have all been going through it this last year.  With a pandemic, with the political tension and the volatile rise in racial tensions across Turtle island, there has been enough collective anxiety for all of us, as well as our personal suffering and/or mental health illnesses.  

The mental health first aid website created a list of self care tips during covid that serves as a great reminder for ways we can keep ourselves moving along in a good way – https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/external/2020/11/self-care-take-care-of-your-mental-health-during-covid-19/ 

  1. Look for opportunities to laugh! Laughing helps release endorphins, our bodies’ feel-good hormones.
  2. Get enough sleep. Adults usually need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you find you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, try limiting technology use prior to bed and having a consistent night routine. Having a cup of (decaffeinated) tea and reading are great ways to wind down and signal your brain that it’s time to get ready for bed.
  3. Exercise as appropriate. Exercise is as good for our emotional health as it is for our physical health. It increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy. Choose something you enjoy — this can be anything from running around with your kids or playing fetch with your dog, to lifting weights or practicing yoga.
  4. Create a “no” list. It’s more than okay to set healthy boundaries for things that no longer serve you. This can be anything from not checking your email at a certain time to not attending every event you’re invited to.
  5. Be kind to yourself. You spend the most time with yourself, so make sure your relationship with the person in the mirror is a positive one. This is something you can practice and can be as simple as saying you’re proud of yourself today.
  6. Stay connected. Even with physical distancing guidelines in place, you can stay connected to friends and loved ones through technologies like video calls and phone calls. Lean on your social support networks if you feel overwhelmed or lonely — we are all experiencing this uncertain time together.

For more information, support and resources on Mental Health please check out the links below.

https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/mental-health-month/

Download the 2021 Mental Health Month Toolkit here as well as fact sheets here – https://www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month

https://mhttcnetwork.org/centers/mhttc-network-coordinating-office/may-mental-health-month

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out there are people waiting to support you at the National Suicide Prevention line – 1-800-273-8255.

IP3 wishes everyone well during these trying times.  We see you all and we support you in your healing.