While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. The good news is there are practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency – and there are ways that everyone can be supportive of friends, family, and co-workers who are struggling with life’s challenges or their mental health.
This May is Mental Health Month. Murray-Calloway County Hospital is highlighting what individuals can do daily to prioritize their mental health, build resiliency in the face of trauma and obstacles, support those who are struggling, and work towards a path of recovery.
First, it is important to develop your own tools to thrive – recognizing and owning your feelings; finding the positive after loss; connecting with others; eliminating toxic influences; creating healthy routines; and supporting others – all as ways to boost the mental health and general wellness of you and your loved ones. When it comes to your feelings, it can be easy to get caught up in your emotions as you’re feeling them. Most people don’t think about what emotions they are dealing with, but taking the time to really identify what you’re feeling can help you to better cope with challenging situations.
It’s ok to give yourself permission to feel. We also know that life can throw us curveballs – and at some point in our lives we will all experience loss. It may be the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, losing a home, or the death of a loved one. It is natural to go through a grieving process.
By looking for opportunity in adversity or finding ways to remember the good things about who or what we’ve lost, we can help ourselves to recover mentally and emotionally. It also is true that connections and the people around us can help our overall mental health – or hurt it. It’s important to make connections with other people that help enrich our lives and get us through tough times, but it’s equally important to recognize when certain people and situations in life can trigger us to feel bad or engage in destructive behaviors. Identifying the toxic influences in our lives and taking steps to create a new life without them can improve mental and physical health over time. And we know that work, paying bills, cleaning, getting enough sleep, and taking care of children are just some of the things we do each day – and it is easy to be overwhelmed. By creating routines, we can organize our days in such a way that taking care of tasks and ourselves becomes a pattern that makes it easier to get things done without having to think hard about them.
For each of us, the tools we use to keep us mentally healthy will be unique. MCCH wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is possible. Finding what works for you may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. By developing your own tools to thrive, it is possible to find balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, and physical health and mental health – and set yourself on the path to recovery.
“The struggles we all face are real and living in these uncertain times adds an additional layer of difficulty to our lives. There are many risk factors that influence our mental health; including genetics, biology, environment, and lifestyle for example. Like any other health issue, it is imperative the symptoms are addressed, and the underlying condition is identified early so that an appropriate plan can be established to improve one’s overall health. Mental health conditions, as any other chronic condition, if left untreated will only worsen. There is good news, treatment options are available and can be very successful. If you or someone you love is experiencing mental health symptoms, don’t wait, seek assistance,” said Melanie Parham, Program Director, Geriatric Behavioral Health Unit, MCCH.