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Prioritizing and Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Daniel McKay

Mental Health Month, observed every May, is a time to raise awareness about mental health issues and promote the importance of mental well-being. The focus on mental health has gained momentum over the years, and it’s more critical than ever as people navigate the complexities of modern life.

Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and behave, influencing our relationships, decision-making and how we cope with stress. When mental health is compromised, it can impact every aspect of our lives, from personal relationships to work productivity.

Mental health is a critical issue in the U.S., affecting a significant portion of the population. Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. (about 20%) experience a mental illness in a given year. Mental health disorders are also a leading cause of disability in the U.S., affecting people’s ability to work, study and engage in social activities.

Despite the growing recognition of mental health’s importance, many people still face barriers to seeking help, including stigma, lack of resources and a shortage of mental health professionals. Mental Health Month serves as a reminder to break down these barriers and encourage open conversations about mental health. There are some easy, practical steps you can take to prioritize and improve your own mental health:

  • Practice mindfulness and meditation to help reduce stress, increase focus, and promote a sense of calm.
  • Exercise regularly to improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Maintain a healthy diet that will positively affect energy levels and help avoid mood swings.
  • Build social connections with others to avoid feeling isolated or lonely.
  • Establish a healthy sleep routine, aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
  • Limit screen time and social media and consider a “digital detox” where you disconnect from screens for a set period.
  • Seek professional help if you are struggling to navigate difficult emotions on your own.

Mental Health Month is a time to reflect on the importance of mental health and take steps to prioritize it in our lives. By practicing mindfulness, exercising, eating well, connecting with others, getting enough sleep, limiting screen time and seeking professional help when needed, you can improve your mental well-being. Remember, you are not alone, and there is support available. Let’s work together to break down the stigma and create a world where everyone feels empowered to prioritize their mental health.

If you are in any doubt about your mental health, reach out to your primary care doctor or nurse, a mental health professional, or a trusted loved one for help. If you do not have a primary care provider and you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or visit 988lifeline.org. You can also reach Crisis Text Line by texting MHA to 741741.