May is Mental Health Awareness month. While I believe we should celebrate it EVERY month, this month is special because it raises awareness to help reduce the stigma of mental health struggles. And in case you didn’t know, here are a few stats for you:
- 1 in 5 US adults experience mental illness each year
- 1 in 20 US adults experience serious mental illness each year
- 1 in 6 US 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.
You are truly not alone if you also experience struggles with your mental health.
For all the roles that we have as moms- the importance of taking care of your mental health should be prioritized. Here are a few ideas to get you going this month!
Ways to Celebrate Mental Health
1. Talk about it!
Of course, within a safe space but the more we can get people to share their own stories and experience, one by one- we are reducing the stigma around mental health issues. Whether it’s in your social circle or close group of friends, opening up about your own mental health struggles can be so important for a multitude of reasons!
2. Prioritize your own mental health.
This is always important! Take a moment to reflect. Are you taking care of yourself? Are there areas you’ve been neglecting? What is ONE thing you can do today to prioritize yourself? Would talking to a therapist help? Take that step today if it’s something you’ve been thinking of doing!
3. Be aware of local resources.
Do you know your local resources for mental health? Do you know where you could go if you or someone you loved was experiencing a mental health emergency? It’s always a good idea to have those resources handy- this month is an excellent time to get those resources rounded up and saved in your phone or written down!
4. Reduce stigma.
Be aware of your own biases and the language you use surrounding mental health. Do you know what language to use when describing someone who might struggle with a mental health issue? Do we, as individuals use kind language toward ourselves and our own struggles? Or are we really hard on ourselves and make it hard to reach out for help?
5. Reach out.
As a therapist, there is one constant that proves to be a crucial factor in recovering and healing from a mental health struggle and that is connection. As humans, we are wired to connect and belong to others. If you know someone who struggles- make a concerted effort, especially this month to reach out. Even a quick text saying, “Just thinking of you,” means the world to someone who is potentially struggling. On the other hand- check in with those who it may appear to be doing well- we all know how easy it is to put on a smile and not be ok on the inside.
6. Donate or volunteer.
Connect with national and local chapters that support mental health causes and donate if you are able. Check out your local chapters and see if there are ways to volunteer. NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness has an Iowa chapter. They also have social media and you can follow along to get up-to-date information about what is going on in your state.
7. Seek out positive social media.
I get that social media can be overwhelming and negative but there are also some amazing accounts that are helping to raise mental health awareness and information/resources/ education. One thing that has helped me is to follow inspirational wellness accounts on Instagram. I also follow NAMI, Mental Health America, and other mental health accounts.
I love scrolling through my social media feed and seeing these accounts interspersed with other accounts I follow. These are some of my favorites: Fleurdelissspeaks, Active Minds, Child Mind Institute, and Nedra Glover Tawwab.
8. Take inventory.
Reflect and take inventory. What is serving you? What isn’t? What could you say “no” to more often?
I hope you’ll join me in raising awareness for Mental Health Month this May. Mental health is just as important as physical health and there is still a lot of work to be done in reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness. Remember, you are NOT alone.