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May is Mental Health Month

National Mental Health Awareness Month, mental health

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

 

Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. In 2013, President Obama proclaimed May as National Mental Health Awareness Month and brought the issue of mental health to the forefront of our nation’s thoughts.

National Mental Health Month raises awareness about mental illness and related issues in the United States. In recent times, attitudes towards mental health issues appear to be changing. Negative attitudes and stigma associated with mental health have reduced and there has been growing acceptance towards mental health issues and support for people with them.

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

People are encouraged to take responsibility for the prevention of mental health issues during times of personal challenge and stress. Many mental health problems can be avoided by making positive lifestyle decisions in how we act and think before they can manifest.

There's no sure way to prevent mental illness. However, if you have a mental illness, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help keep your symptoms under control. Follow these steps:

  • Pay attention to warning signs. Work with your doctor or therapist to learn what might trigger your symptoms. Make a plan so that you know what to do if symptoms return. Contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes in symptoms or how you feel. Consider involving family members or friends to watch for warning signs.

  • Get routine medical care. Don't neglect checkups or skip visits to your family health care provider, especially if you aren't feeling well. You may have a new health problem that needs to be treated, or you may be experiencing side effects of medication.

  • Get help when you need it. Mental health conditions can be harder to treat if you wait until symptoms get bad. Long-term maintenance treatment also may help prevent a relapse of symptoms.
  • Take good care of yourself. Sufficient sleep, healthy eating and regular physical activity are important. Try to maintain a regular schedule. Talk to your provider if you have trouble sleeping or if you have questions about diet and exercise.

Mental illness is common. About 1 in 4 adults has a mental illness in any given year. About half of U.S. adults will develop a mental illness sometime in their lives. Mental illness can begin at any age, from childhood through later adult years.

Coping with a mental illness can be challenging. In most cases, a mental illness won't get better if you try to treat it on your own without professional care. If you want information on local resources, please contact the NDSU Extension Service in Mercer County (701) 873-5195.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/

 

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