May is National Mental Health Awareness Month.
What is mental health?
- Mental health (or “behavioral health”) includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It plays a role in how we think, feel and act.
Why is mental health important?
- It affects how we connect with others, make decisions and handle stress.
- Mental and physical health are equally important for our overall health, and they can influence one another. For example, depression can put you at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, but chronic conditions (such as diabetes) can also put you at higher risk for mental illness.
Are “poor mental health” and “mental illness” the same thing?
- No. A mental health condition or mental illness refers to a specific set of symptoms that have been identified by the mental health community and is diagnosed by a medical professional based on certain criteria. Additionally, mental health conditions are diagnosed once they have caused significant distress or impairment in your social, academic, or other important areas of functioning. Mental health conditions include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, panic disorder, PTSD, and schizophrenia, among many others.
How common are mental illnesses?
- Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.
- 1 in 5 Americans will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.
- 46% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life, and ½ of those people (23%) will be diagnosed by the age of 14.
What can I do to prevent my mental health from worsening?
- Focus on reducing stress, eat a healthy diet, sleep 7 or more hours per night (teenagers should aim for 8-10 hours per night), meditate, spend time enjoying your hobbies, exercise, share your feelings, be supportive of yourself and of others, and reach out for help if you need it.
- Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider or stop by the Quincy Student Health and Wellness Center (QSHWC). Our staff at the QSHWC works with a team of incredible behavioral health consultants (BHC) who can help you better understand your moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors, which can help to improve your mental health.
- Another great resource is Psychology Today which is a website that can help you find a counselor based on where you live, what the counselor specializes in, price, insurance, and more.
Remember, it’s never too early to seek treatment for your mental health.