Mental Health Awareness Month

by Jess Barnett, NHPHA Communications Committee Member

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an annual event started in 1949 by Mental Health America and observed by many United States organizations. During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health awareness is more important than ever. For this year’s monthlong observance, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is sharing the theme “You Are Not Alone.” More information on this message can be found at the link.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the pandemic has been hard on many people’s mental health. This is partly due to public health measures, such as social distancing, which requires staying at home to avoid getting the coronavirus. Record U.S. unemployment, which has caused many people to worry about their financial situation, has also played a significant role in the stress felt by many. Now that a COVID-19 vaccination is available and about a fifth of the U.S. has been fully vaccinated, social distancing requirements are being lifted around the country. But the CDC says it is still important to wear masks and retain physical distance.

What can you do to protect your mental health during this time? The CDC has shared information about some tips to try, which include the following:

• Take news and media breaks. While it’s important to stay informed, the constant barrage of headlines can be stressful and tiring. Give yourself breaks throughout the day.
• Relax through activities you enjoy, such as taking a walk, reading, or watching a funny movie.
• Connect with friends. Even though social distancing is important, communication with loved ones and people you trust is more important than ever. Pick up the phone, make a FaceTime call, send an email, or even write a letter.

If you try these tips and find your mental health hasn’t improved, it might be time to seek professional help. The CDC has provided a list of resources that you can reach out to here. Mental Health America’s Mental Health Awareness Month toolkit can be found here

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