Help Spread Awareness During Mental Health Month in May

Hands holding green ribbon for mental health awareness monthSince 1949, May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month or simply Mental Health Month. Founded by an organization called Mental Health America, the observance is a time for mental health professionals, educators and people, in general, to spread the news that mental health is a key component of overall health. It is also an opportunity to highlight the fact that getting help from a mental health services provider is no different than seeking treatment from your family doctor.

Each year, the observance has a theme or area of focus. In 2019, Mental Health America says it is “expanding upon last year’s theme of #4Mind4Body and taking it to the next level, as we explore the topics of animal companionship (including pets and support animals), spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness.”

 

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

As part of Mental Health Month, the first week of May is a time for focusing on how mental illness affects children and their families. It is easy for adults to think of childhood as a time of carefree fun and overlook the fact that mental health issues can be present or develop at any age. In fact, the same mental health conditions that affect adults can impact children. This includes:

  • Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders, such as binge-eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which affects a person’s ability to communicate with and interact with others
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which causes hyperactivity, impulsive actions and difficulty concentrating
  • Schizophrenia, which causes people to experience psychosis or losing touch with reality

The symptoms of mental illness can be different in children than adults, so it is important for parents and other caregivers to be familiar with the signs of mental health conditions. It is also important for people to understand that while children do go through behavioral “phases” as they mature, concerning behaviors should not necessarily be attributed to these periods.

 

How to Spot Mental Health Issues in Children and Teens

The sooner a mental health condition is identified, the more successful mental health services can be in treating it. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Mood changes that last for at least two weeks and interfere with relationships at school or at home
  • Intense feelings of fear or of being overwhelmed by life, which may be accompanied by rapid breathing or heart rate
  • Trouble concentrating or sitting still
  • Physical symptoms like stomachaches or headaches, which are more commonly a sign of a mental health condition in children than adults
  • Significant changes in behavior such as lashing out verbally or physically, or expressing a desire to hurt others
  • Substance abuse, which may be a coping mechanism for a mental health disorder
  • Unexplained weight loss, frequent vomiting or loss of appetite
  • Self-harm such as cutting or burning of the skin 

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should talk with your child’s doctor. If appropriate, you should also consider talking with their teachers or school counselor to better understand the scope of the behavior. With that information, you and your doctor or mental health services provider can decide what action, if any, should be taken.

 

Mental Health Conditions are Treatable!

During Mental Health Month in May and all year long, it is important for people suffering from mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable and that there is no shame in seeking assistance. In fact, asking for help is a sign of strength and a positive step forward that should be applauded.

If you have questions about the mental health services we provide at Community Reach Center, contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County, including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

 

Managing Anxiety and Depression: The Power of the First Step

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.

8 Ways You Can Raise Community Awareness during Mental Health Month

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.