Mental Health Awareness
Lola A., MSN, RN
Everyone has mental health, and your mental health deserves your attention!
Our mental health is our ability to connect with others, manage stress, and make decisions that impact our lives. Our mental health impacts how we think, feel, and behave (MHA, 2022). It is our emotional and social well-being.
I learned that taking care of my mental health is critical to my well-being from an early age. I grew up seeing close relatives struggle with mental health conditions. I also witnessed many of their efforts to take care of themselves and cope with various mental health problems. Some of these people remain committed to managing their conditions and coping, while some were not so fortunate and lost the battle. These experiences influenced how I think about my mental health from an early age. As a result, I understand that for me to be mentally fit, I must understand how stress affects me, stay positive, get physically healthy, know my risk factors, and seek professional help when needed.
Unlike medical conditions with a single cause, mental health conditions have multiple risk factors. The greater your risk, the more likely you will develop a mental health condition sometime in your lifetime.
Mental health risk factors may include a history of trauma, stress, chronic medical conditions, or even substance use. Stress overload can lead to serious health problems such as anxiety, depression, nervousness, inability to manage anger, loss of concentration, sadness, and difficulty making decisions. If these feelings go untreated, they may result in serious complications
Trauma is different for everyone. What feels normal to you might be stressful to someone else.
Helpful tips to feeling mentally strong:
- Do not let the long-existing stigma around mental health hold you back from being mentally fit. Remember, when you hurt anywhere, you seek help to get better; this also applies to your mental well-being. Therefore, if you feel any of the above, take care of yourself. Get professional help if you need it. Call your mental health professional to discuss these feelings.
- Get physically active. Exercise can help boost your mood, burn stress hormones, improve your sleep, increase your energy, boost your immune system, decrease pain, and lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. For overall health, American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week (AHA, 2022).
- Lately, I have started practicing gratitude by noticing and appreciating positive things around me, and I find it mood-boosting. Therefore, I encourage you to stay positive. It does not mean you ignore all your life problems, rather be optimistic. Creating positive habits can help support healthy minds.
- Good food and adequate sleep can help boost your energy. Eat well and get enough sleep. Set a regular bedtime routine and stick to it. Avoiding caffeine close to bedtime may also help.
- Do not do it alone. Find emotional support. Get professional help if needed. Sometimes crying, sharing your frustrations, or venting can help release tension and stress.
Whether we know it or not, mental health plays a key role in our well-being. When we are mentally fit, we feel good about ourselves, we are better able to deal with stress, and we enjoy life and loved ones.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, get help right away. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
American Health Association (AHA): https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
Center for Disease Control (CDC). Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/index.html
For additional nutritional information, see https://mypyramid.gov. In addition, you will find a food tracker, menu planner, and other tools.
Mental Health America: https://www.mhanational.org/