May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States struggle with mental illness in any given year. In fact, mental health crises are the third most common cause of hospitalization nationally. Those diagnosed with mental health disorders have been shown to die, on average, 25 years younger than those without a diagnosis, without receiving professional help. 70% of incarcerated juveniles are diagnosed with a mental illness, and suicide is the third leading cause of death in children aged 10-14 years of age.
You may not have heard of it, but Mental Health Awareness Month has long been celebrated in the United States. The non-profit organization Mental Health America began the campaign in 1949 as a way of raising awareness and breaking the stigma associated with mental health disorders. It is now observed by some of the most notable mental health organizations in the country, including The National Alliance for Mental Health Illness and The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Each year, the organization launches a new campaign designed to provide the public with tools to improve and maintain their mental health.
This year, Mental Health America is inviting the public to take part in the #4Mind4Body Challenge. The challenge encourages people to make small changes every day, physically and mentally, to improve their overall wellbeing. The mind/body connection has recently gained traction in the US, with the new branch of Nutritional Psychiatry being reported in major medical journals, to highlight the correlation between diet and brain function. Along with the well-established notion that exercise promotes better mood, many mental health experts are putting stronger focus on addressing patients physical health in order to aid in the reduction of symptoms associated with mental health disorders.
HERE ARE SOME MORE QUICK TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH:
- Creative Expression- Individuals who regularly participate in creative hobbies generally report a better sense of overall well-being. This can include writing, cooking, painting, coloring, gardening, etc. Purchase an adult coloring book or check out some new recipes on Facebook and Pinterest.
- Pamper Yourself- Set aside time for yourself each week to have some “me time.” Even something as simple as taking a hot, quiet bath can have a positive impact on your mindset.
- Animals- Snuggling up next to a pet has been shown to increase levels of dopamine, the “feel god chemical” in the brain.
- Smile- Smiling has actually been shown to lower heart rate, producing a calming effect.
- Spend some time in the Sun- Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, which is believed to improve mood.