May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and MCH Senior Life Solutions raises awareness about the signs, symptoms, and risk factors regarding mental health and how to know when to seek help. Over the past couple of years, mental health has moved to the forefront for many. An increasing number of folks are beginning to see it for what it is: a vital component of your overall health and well-being, just as important as your physical health. At the same time, mental health conditions, resources, and conversations can still feel complicated and out of reach.
Many people are learning about mental health topics for the first time. Having a widespread understanding of the topic can help you be more informed if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health condition or crisis.
Around half of the people in the U.S. will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life. This understanding can help us to be more empathetic to the mental health of our families, friends, and community members.
There are signs and symptoms to be aware of and specific factors that can lead to mental health conditions or crises. What resources are out there – and how do I know if they’re right for me?
By becoming acquainted with the common signs of mental health issues, we can be more prepared, confident, and less afraid of where to start when addressing our mental health.
“Understanding the signs and symptoms of a mental health condition is the first step to a happier, healthier life,”says Holly Mackie, BSN, RN, Program Director of Senior Life Solutions. “Understanding that mental health conditions are common and treatable is the next. We must keep working to break down the stigma against mental health to ensure people receive the help they need.”
There’s often no single cause for a mental health condition. Instead, many possible risk factors can influence how likely a person is to experience a mental health condition or how severe the symptoms may be. Some risk factors for mental health conditions include “trauma,” which can be a one-time event or ongoing. And “environment or social determinants” impact health and quality of life (i.e., financial stability and health care access); genetics; brain chemistry; and habits/lifestyle, such as a lack of sleep.
Everyone should have the support needed to thrive. Communities that have experienced oppression, historically or presently, face a more profound mental health burden because of the impact of trauma, injustice, and harm.
Of course, understanding the risk factors for a mental health condition can be more problematic when it’s your mental health. It’s hard to see the changes. Take time to ask yourself about any changes in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to see if this is part of a pattern caused by a situation affecting the health of your mind. Hare some questions to get you started:
• Have things that used to feel easy started feeling difficult?
• Does the idea of doing daily tasks like making your bed now feel really, really hard?
• Have you lost interest in activities and hobbies you once enjoyed?
• Do you feel irritated, possibly to the point of lashing out at those close to you?
Our society focuses much more on physical health than mental health, but both are equally important. If you are concerned about your mental health, several options are available. You are not alone – help is out there, and recovery is possible.
It may be hard to talk about your concerns, but simply acknowledging that you’re struggling is a huge step.
You may not need this information today, yet understanding the basics of mental health will mean you will be more prepared if you ever need it. Go to mhanational.org/may to learn more.
Senior Life Solutions is MCH’s program, designed to meet the unique needs of individuals typically 65 and older experiencing depression and/or anxiety related to life changes that are often associated with aging. If you or someone you know is struggling with a recent heart-related diagnosis or a decline in emotional health, our program wants you to know we are here to help. Whether through our program, or another service, our team works to identify and address the emotional needs of those in our community and provide support.