While April showers bring May flowers, May also brings Mental Health Awareness Month! This is not only an extremely important month for mental health professionals, but also for humankind as well. In fact, 1 in 5 (that is about 43.8 million) Americans experience struggles with mental illness every year. It makes it highly likely that you or someone you may know struggles with mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, addiction, or other diagnoses.
While this statistic may be startling, it helps erase stigma against mental illnesses because it shows just how many people struggle on a day-to-day basis (many with similar symptoms). Struggling with a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something that can be lessened with the work of mental health professionals.
Attending therapy sessions with a licensed psychologist or therapist is a great way to start with gaining coping mechanisms for the symptoms of mental illnesses. Talking with a therapist to simply get worries off your chest can also be beneficial. Sometimes it may be necessary to take medication to help ease symptoms, conferring with a therapist and psychiatrist can get relief for severe symptoms or persistent symptoms that do not go away after using coping mechanisms and therapy.
Taking care of your mental health also includes participating in self care (which we have a few articles about here on our blog). Self-care varies from person to person, but it is important to take time for yourself amidst a busy and chaotic world. Take time to find the perfect stress relivers for yourself, while checking to make sure that they are healthy and mindful!
Lastly, and one of the most important aspects of mental health awareness, is extending love, patience, and understanding towards those around you. Even if they do not disclose to you that they struggle with a mental illness, friends, family, etc. can be going through a lot. Extend the love that you wish to receive to those around you and help them pick up whatever pieces you can. Take time to educate those who say hurtful or untrue things about mental illness as well. It is all about being an advocate for yourself and for others in all of these ways. Take care and best wishes on whatever your mental health journey may be!
Written by Emma, Undergrad Intern 2021
If you would like to speak to a professional counselor or psychologist about this and are in the Chicago area, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.