People who struggle with mental health challenges like anxiety and depression often feel trapped by their condition. They know they should take action to address it, but symptoms like a lack of energy or fear of the future may make it difficult to seek help. One way to break free is to take one small step forward. This can create momentum toward taking additional steps and ultimately lead to fully embracing treatment and recovery.
Putting One Foot in Front of the Other
Taking even a small step toward achieving better mental health tends to create a positive, hopeful feeling in the person fighting the illness. It also signals to those around them that they are ready to make a change, which can lead to encouragement and offers of support that make it easier to take the next step. While the process of seeking help for conditions such as anxiety and depression is different for everyone, here are some actions to consider:
- Lower your defenses. If you have been reluctant to talk about how you’re feeling when approached by loved ones, try listening to what they have to say rather than avoiding the conversation. Saying “Yes, that’s something I should think about” can be a great first step.
- Start or resume a prayer or meditation practice. Any self-care activity that helps calm your mind so you can think more clearly is a good thing. Over time, it can give you the mental clarity you need to make a plan for addressing your condition.
- Approach one person. If family and friends are no longer trying to initiate conversations with you about your illness, try opening the door to discussion with just one person. A statement like “I think I have a problem and may need to talk with a counselor” tends to be all it takes to get the eager assistance of a loved one in finding help.
- Take action to improve your physical health. Recovering from mental illness is a process that requires a significant amount of energy. Eating healthful, nutritious foods, getting adequate sleep and exercising regularly can help give you the strength you need to pursue treatment.
- Assess where you are and where you want to be. When struggling with anxiety or depression, you may seek to cope simply by not thinking about your situation. While it may be uncomfortable to do so, taking the time to look at what your life is like today and envision how you want it to be in the future can be an excellent first step.
Start Making Progress toward Better Mental Health
Mental illnesses like anxiety and depression are treatable conditions. The key to addressing them is creating some forward momentum. We’re here to help. Contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.
One of the reasons that May is recognized as Mental Health Month is that despite continuous advances in research, treatment and awareness efforts, there is still much work to be done. Many people aren’t exposed to mental health issues until they are directly impacted by a tragedy such as suicide. Mental Health Month is an effort to promote a more positive, proactive approach to addressing mental illnesses.
Getting the Word Out
In the same way we educate communities about physical health concerns such as heart disease, it’s critical that we start conversations about what mental illness is, how to recognize it and the fact that it is a treatable illness. Here are some simple steps you can take to help raise the collective consciousness about mental health where you live:
- Talk with everyone you know. Ask family, friends and coworkers how they’re doing and really listen to the answers. If they give any indication that they are depressed or stressed out, let them know that there are resources available to help them. - If you sense that they might be considering self-harm or suicide, encourage them to seek help immediately and assist them as appropriate.
- Open up about your experience. If you’ve struggled or are struggling with mental illness, share your story. Hearing another person is going through the same thing you are can be a relief. And, it can be the nudge a person needs to get help and look into treatment.
- Encourage kind language. When you hear people around you talk about mental illness in disparaging terms, politely ask them to consider the impact of their words. Any language that reinforces the stigma of mental illness is harmful and might keep someone from getting help. Further explore the importance of person-centered language, which respects the consumer by separating the symptoms from the person with thoughtful language.
- Educate yourself about mental illness. It’s not uncommon for people to misunderstand mental illness. Learn more about it and share what you learn. This includes talking with children about mental health in age-appropriate terms. Children are not immune to mental illness and can experience conditions like depression and anxiety as early as elementary school.
- Coordinate a mental health screening event. Promoting an event or asking that mental health screening be part of a community health fair can encourage people to take action regarding their mental health. You can learn more about screening at websites like www.mentalhealthscreening.org and www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org.
- Volunteer. Mental health organizations like Community Reach Center frequently need help with specific initiatives and ongoing efforts. Your phone call or email will be greeted with heartfelt appreciation.
- Leverage social media. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be great forums for inspiring people to be open-minded and inquisitive when it comes to mental illness.
- Encourage physical health that supports mental health. Help people understand that physical health can have a direct impact on mental health. Eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise and sleep all play a part in a person’s mental and emotional state.
The Power of One
Mental Health Month is the perfect time to start conversations in your community about mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety and suicide. And if you’re wondering whether one person’s efforts can make a difference, the answer is “Absolutely!” Every conversation you have about the importance of recognizing and treating mental illness creates a ripple that reaches people in your circle and far beyond it.
If you or someone you know needs help with any mental or emotional issues, contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the Northern Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.