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DisabilityConnectionNewsletterMay2015
Posted on May 15, 2015

May 2015

10 Things You Need to Know about Mental Health


1. May is National Mental Health Awareness Month , making this a good time to check up
on yourself and gauge your overall mental health. There are many different types of mental
health conditions and its important to learn the warning signs of each to start the path
to better mental health. Many organizations are working to prevent the stigma associated
with these conditions so that more people are comfortable speaking about their experiences
and seeking treatment. B4Stage4 encourages individuals to get informed , get
screened and get help . The Campaign to Change Direction is a coalition of concerned
citizens and nonprofit and private sector leaders working together to change the story in
America about mental health, mental illness and wellness. Know that you are not alone by
listening to the National Alliance for Mental Illnesss (NAMI) In Our Own Voice stories of
others recoveries or submit your own story .
2. Fighting Stigma. At the 2013 National Conference on Mental Health , President Obama
urged that, There should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses
that affect too many people that we love. Weve got to get rid of that embarrassment; weve
got to get rid of that stigma. Many people living with a mental health condition
unfortunately experience stigma and misunderstanding . In fact, a nationwide survey
found that only 25 percent of adults with mental health symptoms believed that people are
sympathetic towards those with mental illness. Some people mistakenly believe that mental
illness always leads to violent and unpredictable behavior . Based on fear,
misunderstanding or a lack of information about mental illness, stigma may cause people
to delay treatment or to experience discrimination in employment, housing and other areas
of their lives. If you feel like youre dealing with stigma, know that there are many ways to
cope . Remember you are not alone, keep hope, seek treatment and surround yourself
with supportive people.

3. Children and Youth. Young peoples mental health is just as important as their physical
health as they grow and age. Youth are more affected by mental health issues and
millions of American children live with depression, mood and anxiety disorders and other
mental health issues. Its not unusual for youth to experience phases of anxiety , for
example, but it may be time to seek help if symptoms continue. Parents and guardians need
to know the signs of a mental health condition . For kids and teens, there are many
resources and supports to help them deal with mental health issues and other challenges
they might be facing. From feeling anxious and fighting depression , to coping with
cutting and having thoughts of suicide , youth need support in order to recover. The
OK2TALK online forum offers an opportunity for them to share whats on their mind.
Good mental health , supportive adults and good friends are critical to thinking clearly,
developing socially and learning new skills.More youth-focused help is available on
MentalHealth.gov .
4. Keeping Sharp While Aging. As people age, their brains change and communicate
differently. As these natural changes occur , people may notice differences in their ability
to learn new tasks or recall information. If all this is upsetting, dont worry learn the
difference between being forgetful and experiencing more serious memory loss . Aging
does make people more susceptible to conditions such as dementia , including
Alzheimers . There are signs and symptoms to keep an eye on if you or an older adult
you know seems to experience more than simple memory decline. As you age, follow seven
steps to preventing memory loss and mix up your routine with these ideas on working
your brain . Keep healthy through regular exercise, a good diet, intellectually stimulating
activities and close social ties. Read Whats Your Aging IQ? or take an online interactive
quiz to learn about normal aging and how to get the most out of older age.
5. Treating and Coping with Depression. Its estimated that more than 20 million people in
the United States have depression. Depression is not just feeling down or sad for a few
days it is a serious medical illness with a broad spectrum of symptoms that persist and
interfere with everyday life. These symptoms may include feelings of sadness, loss of
interest or pleasure in activities and changes in weight. The National Institute of Mental
Health outlines what depression is, types of depression and how it can become visible. If
you think you may have depression, you may want to use an online depression screening
tool . To get a proper diagnosis and treatment , you should make an appointment to see
a health care provider such as a general physician or a licensed therapist . As part of your
treatment, you can also seek out support groups and use self-care techniques like
proper diet, rest and exercise.
6. Managing PTSD. Almost eight percent of Americans will experience post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. PTSD can be difficult to manage, but with
proper treatment and care, recovery is possible. There are many effective ways to treat
PTSD , including cognitive therapy, group therapy and medication. The U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs is committed to helping veterans coping with PTSD with online resources
for managing and recovering from this complex condition that can be used by non-veterans
as well. Along with professional help, self-care techniques such as rest, exercising, limiting
TV and even using a PTSD mobile app are just some of the ways individuals can lessen
their symptoms and improve their mental health. PTSD affects not just those living with it
but their loved ones, too. Friends and family can help by understanding the disorder and
supporting the loved one through their recovery. Veterans and their families in need of
immediate help should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
7. Services and Supports. One in four Americans

is diagnosed with a mental health

condition in any given year. There are a variety of supports and services available for
people living with mental illness. If you think you need help, call SAMHSAs Treatment
Referral Helpline at 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727) to get general information on mental
health. Find a treatment services center , call the suicide prevention lifeline and learn
more about other programs and services for mental health conditions. You may want to
consult a professional for help assessing, diagnosing and treating a suspected mental
health condition. Beyond a professionals course of treatment, which may include therapy,
medication or both, you may want to consider finding a support group . Groups like these
bring together people with similar issues and help build a social circle of peers who
understand what each is going through and provide valuable connections.
8. Fitness and Mental Health. New medical and mental health research continues to uncover
the effect of exercise on mental health . Mental health practitioners often prescribe
exercise as part of their treatment plans. Among the benefits of regular exercise are
reduced stress, improved mood and and better sleep. Consider which physical activities you
enjoy doing perhaps walking, swimming or an exercise class and develop an exercise
plan . Be sure to start slowly and work your way to a higher level of fitness. Perhaps
youll want to bring along a friend the next time you work out. The federal guidelines for
physical activity can help you get started and understand your goals. Track your exercise,
diet, weight goals and more with the Supertracker . Older Americans can find great
exercise routines and plans that enhance endurance , strength , balance and
flexibility at Go4Life . Calculate your physical activity, set goals , and get moving!
9. Employment and Mental Health. People living with mental illness come from all walks of
life and work in all types of jobs. Employment can provide a sense of purpose, opportunities
to learn and connections with others, all of which can aid in recovery. Since those who work
spend more time doing it than ever at least a third of the day both employees and
employers must understand how to accommodate mental health issues in the workplace.
Employees can find a balance to manage stress and other symptoms at work and at
home. In addition, there are accommodations to help workers with mental health
conditions stay productive on the job. Both the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health
Parity Act protect your rights to health insurance that covers treatment for mental and
behavioral health services. Employers can take a number of steps to support an employee
with a mental illness and foster a psychologically healthy workplace . Readthis recentblog
post from the U.S. Department of Labor for more information about the importance
ofsupporting the mental health needs of workers.
10. Caring for Someone with a Mental Health Condition. When you love someone with a
mental health condition, coping with a diagnosis and understanding their experience is
not always easy. Symptoms can be hard to understand and treatment may be timeconsuming and difficult to navigate. Caregivers play an important role in the recovery
process; fortunately there is support for managing stress and other needs of family and
friends of people receiving mental health services. The stress of being a caregiver can take
a toll in many ways, so caregivers should make taking care of themselves a priority. NAMI
offers the free NAMI Family-to-Family program for family, significant others and friends of
people living with mental illness. The National 211 Program referral line connects people
with important community services that include mental health services and support groups.
If you or your loved one is in the military, there are resources available for caregivers,
including the Give An Hour program, which offers free mental health services to U.S.
military personnel and their families.
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