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May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, which has been celebrated annually since 1949. During this month we pay special attention to mental health and mental well-being, raise awareness of those living with behavioral health issues, and lower the stigma surrounding mental health.
Mental health, physical health and emotional health are all intertwined. That’s why Providence is committed to caring for every aspect of our patients’ health, including supporting emotional and mental well-being.
Patients and members of our community can learn ways to manage their mental health, including practicing self-care, recognizing signs of mental health concerns and seeking care when needed.
It’s no secret that we are in the midst of a mental health crisis, one that often impacts children and teens. An estimated one-fifth of children in the U.S. struggle with mental health. And suicide remains a top-three cause of death for teens and young adults.
Despite these scary statistics, there is action we can take, including honoring the messages of Mental Health Awareness Month: raising awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues and fighting the stigma surrounding mental health care. And for caregivers at Providence, it means encouraging positive mental health strategies like practicing self-care, recognizing signs of mental health concerns and encouraging patients to seek care when needed.
First recognized in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month is a time for caregivers and communities to come together to support behavioral health and overall well-being, because mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand.
“We believe in caring for the whole person,” says Annelise Manns, Psy.D., clinical psychologist at Providence. “Mental health matters every month, but this Mental Health Awareness Month, we hope to continue to break the stigmas around mental health conditions and encourage healthy behaviors and care for all in our community.”
Why recognize Mental Health Awareness Month?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder during their lives. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health conditions in the U.S. with millions of Americans managing these conditions every year.
Despite half of Americans working through these challenges, mental health remains stigmatized, and those suffering often don’t seek care or have access to care. Mental Health Awareness Month aims to reduce this stigma and open conversations around mental health so more patients can seek care.
Providence is proud to support our patients’ mental health. From educating on suicide prevention to de-stigmatizing voice-hearing, we are committed to caring for every aspect of our patients’ well-being.
"This is why mental health providers are being increasingly embedded into health care settings, to allow providers to work as a team to care for every aspect of a patient’s wellbeing,” says Dr. Manns.
How to support your mental health
We all face daily stressors that can impact our mental health. Managing your mental wellness means you can be resilient when these stressors affect you so you can be at your best. Some ways to support your mental health include:
- Being kind to yourself when you are feeling stress
- Checking in on yourself and acknowledging your feelings
- Finding times throughout the day to pause and reset, including through journaling or meditation
- Reaching out to loved ones and friends
Beyond practicing mindfulness activities, taking care of physical health can also support mental health. “Because the mind and body are connected, caring for your body also benefits mental health,” Dr. Manns says. “This includes aiming for 20 minutes of physical activity as many days as possible, a regular sleep routine of 7+ hours per night, eating consistent and nutritious meals, and taking time for rest and leisure.”
Supporting mental health for children and teens
Unfortunately, it’s no wonder that children are experiencing a mental health crisis. From the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to all-too-frequent school shootings, kids are living in a challenging and confusing time. For many children, schools are the ideal place to recognize and address mental health conditions in a positive environment. Mental health issues can harm children’s ability to learn and set these kids back. Unfortunately, many schools lack funding to train teachers or hire staff to help children with mental health challenges.
Parents can support children’s mental health by starting conversations early. “By talking about mental health and feelings, parents make it clear to their kids that mental health is a topic they can be open about,” says Dr. Manns. “These conversations help lower the stigma of mental health and encourage kids to go to their parents when they feel they need help with their mental health.”
Some strategies parents can try include:
- Being around to talk – regularly and without screens
- Eating meals together to encourage regular conversation and check-ins
- Encouraging “mental health days” like regular sick days
- Modeling meditation and mindfulness
- Putting exercise on the schedule
Annelise Manns, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, at Providence Health.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional’s instructions.