May is Mental Health Month!

What is mental health month about?

Hello everyone! Welcome to May, the month that celebrates Mental Health Awareness! Recognized in 1949 as the first official Mental Health Awareness Month, organizations such as Mental Health America have strived to provide bountiful resources and information to the community. This month is about bringing to light the information that you may not be aware of related to mental health and mental health conditions. Through psychoeducation and reliance on the facts, Mental Health Month can help not only raise awareness but break the stigma of getting help. The more we know, the more opportunities we have to act on this knowledge. Through many provided resources and activities, people of all developmental and professional levels can work to improve their own mental health and support the needs of others. Jump to the bottom of this blog in order to find links to my recommended resources!

How to take advantage of this month

As a provider

As a provider of mental health services, we are at an advantage relative to the access to resources and support that others need, as well as the education and competence in understanding mental health. It is our job, this month, and every month, to share what we know with others. I am not suggesting that you make a full social media account dedicated to resources and start building a presence in this way (unless of course you want to), but instead utilizing the platforms of communication and connection you do have to spread the awareness. As you share your knowledge and resources, I encourage you to provide support in finding mental health treatment. Especially now, as we are on stay at home orders, this is the time to research new and different ways of obtaining treatment and support. Many clients and other individuals are unsure where to start their search or who to trust. That is why it is up to us to make this easier on them and make the information more accessible! Lastly, who would we be to spit out recommendations to others without following our own lead. If you find that you and your mental health are being affected by the current times, seek treatment on your own. As a mental health professional, it is important that we take care of our own needs in order to help others effectively and appropriately with theirs. As a front-line responder to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not immune from the stress that surrounds it. It is important that we take care of ourselves and act as a positive role model for our clients and others that we reach.

As someone struggling with mental health conditions

If you are someone who already is struggling with pre-existing mental health conditions, I want to start by applauding you for making it to this blog. To find this blog tells me that you are on a search for wellness and support, and that is a big step to take. This month is about helping you and those who support you learn more about what it is that you are going through and how you can receive help. However you found this blog, I encourage you to look into the other search results that came up. See what is out there as, this month, many different organizations will be outsourcing many of their resources. If you follow this out until the end, I have provided some helpful links for where to start looking! Other than google searching for resources, reach out to others to strengthen and form new and old bonds. Right now, many of us are in a similar position of being very isolated within our homes and are striving for human connection. Create some time in your day to catch up with others or put yourself out there in a different way on Instagram and see the feedback you receive. You never know how your words may touch someone else and the relationships that can be created as a result. Having a solid base of support has proven to have significant positive impacts on the mental health of an individual; so please take the time to establish your support group and build it up while we are paying more attention! Another outlet for support would be your current, past, or potential therapist. If you have found yourself with spending your time sitting and stewing in your thoughts without an outlet to release that pressure, it may be time to get back into the therapy game. I know things can be odd right now as many sessions are over the phone or through a video platform. As a practicing clinician, I can speak to this and say that despite the initial discomfort of using a new format, my sessions with my clients have been equally beneficial and productive based on my client’s reports. Many accommodations are being made right now to ensure that people are given the support they need, so do not hesitate to communicate any questions or concerns you may have related to the new format of sessions.

As someone supporting others

Now if you have made it this far and said to yourself, ‘Alright I get it but how does this apply to me?’ then do not worry as I have something for you too. Let us start by clearing the air on something, you do not need to be a professional in order to support those around you. Now, that is not to say that you should not communicate and establish boundaries and identify limitations within your support, but you are not as limited as you think. As someone who may be in a better mental headspace than some of their loved ones, you have the ability to do some research that your loved ones may just not have the capacity for at this time. In an effort to guide them to the support and relief that they deserve you can research self-help resources, assisted support through a therapist, and even support or community-based groups. With any and all of this, you are not supposed to have the answers as to how it all works or how to apply the resources and that is okay. We want to defer to the facts when raising awareness and reducing stigma, so you do not need to feel pressured to make something up or make something work that is not currently working for your loved one. Stick to the information you find from reliable sources and point your loved ones in positive directions. This is a time where we need to be patient and mindful as well as we may be able to provide resources and information to our loved ones to help, but we cannot force them to take in the information or act on it. Be easy with yourself and patient with your loved ones. Mental health is complex and difficult to understand, if it were not, then I would not be here writing to you. Know that your recognition that someone is in need and can benefit from support can be extremely powerful and meaningful to your loved ones.

Resources

Olive Branch Counseling Associates: https://www.olivebranchcounselingassociates.com/

Phone: 708-633-8000 x3              Address: 6819 West 167th Street Tinley Park, IL 60477

If you or a loved one are seeking therapy and live in Illinois, follow the link or call the number provided, to learn about our counselors and how to contact us to get set up for your first appointment.

MHA: https://www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month

Mental Health America provides a myriad of resources and information for all populations seeking information and help relative to their mental health. Each year they create a Toolkit of resources and share during Mental Health Month. Download your toolkit for free and share with others!

NAMI: https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Month

Check out NAMI’s ‘You are not Alone’ Campaign and join in with your own story to share.

AFSP: https://afsp.org/

Look around AFSP’s website to learn more about mental health, spreading awareness, how to get involved, and even order free resource materials! There is an Illinois Chapter that host many events that you can join in on as well!

TWLOHA: https://twloha.com/get-involved/

To Write Love on her Arms is an amazing resource for suicide prevention and self-help. With many free resources and ways to connect to the community you are sure to find tools to share and use this month!

Hope for the Day: https://www.hftd.org/involved

A leading Chicago organization in suicide prevention, Hope for the Day provides learning opportunities for all communities in order to spread the message of hope. Check out their website for resources and ways to get involved in the community!

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