It is a little hard to believe that the first Mental Health Month was 71 years ago in 1949. Since then, each May, mental health professionals, individuals and community advocates make the opportunity to share information aimed at reducing the unnecessary stigma around mental health and to educate people on the why it is so important to speak out loud about mental health as a very common concern we all share.
Mental Health America shares with us this month some very effective and practical tools, called Tools2Thrive, which each of us can use to improve their own mental health and increase their resiliency. These tools, readily available online, are basic tools we each can use daily to make our own mental and emotional health a priority, build resiliency in the face of trauma, obstacles and support others are struggling.
One of the easiest and fastest tools suggested is to take a mental health screen at www.mhascreening.org. It is a fast, free and private way to assess our own mental and emotional well-being and recognize signs of possible problems. Six specific areas that the Tools2Thrive focuses on are 1) recognizing and owning your feelings; 2)finding the positive after a loss; 3)connecting with others; 4)eliminating toxic influences; 5)creating healthy routines; and 6)supporting others.
It can be easy to be caught up in our emotions and feelings all at once and not really be sure exactly what we are feeling. When we can understand exactly what we are feeling… anger, sadness, guilt….we are inherently better positioned to cope. Taking the time to truly identify what you are feeling can help you to deal with challenging situations. We know that life can throw us curveballs (lots of them in 2020 so far) and at some point we will all experience loss. It may be the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, losing a home, or the death of a loved one. It is all loss at some level. It’s ok to give yourself permission to feel and know that it is very human thing to go through a grieving process about a variety of losses.
It also is true that connections and the people around us can help our overall mental health – or threaten it. It’s important to make connections with other people that help enrich our lives and get us through tough times, but it’s equally important to recognize when certain people and situations in life can trigger us to feel bad or engage in self destructive behaviors. Identifying the toxic influences in our lives and taking steps to create a new life without them can improve mental and physical health over time.
It is not hard to get overwhelmed over the course of a busy week….working a job, paying bills, cleaning, getting enough sleep, cooking, and taking care of children are just some of the things we might do each day. By creating regular routines around these tasks, we can organize our days so that we have a pattern or habit of taking care of tasks and taking care of ourselves, without having to think quite so hard about them.
Consider creating Make May My Own Mental Health Month by developing your own Tools2Thrive from Mental Health America. Each of our individual tools will likely be different, but you can find what works for you and start with small. It may happen slowly but building on small changes can create big positives over time.
Andrea Mory is a human resources and management professional who resides in North Texas. She has collaborated with employers and behavioral health professionals over the last 20 years to develop training and education programs related to behavioral health. Bill Mory is a Texoma-based licensed therapist in private practice who is an active member of the local behavioral health network and a provider of workplace training on a variety of topics. Learn more at www.morytherapy.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.