May is Mental Health Month
Minding Your Health—this year’s theme for May is Mental Health Month—calls attention to strategies and approaches that help all Americans achieve wellness and good mental and overall health.
“Minding Your Health is about getting healthy and keeping healthy,” said Susan Fordice, president and CEO of Mental Health America of Greater Houston. “Wellness is essential to living a full and productive life, and while we may have different ideas about what wellness means, it essentially involves a set of skills and strategies used to prevent the onset or lessen the duration of illness and to promote recovery.”
According to Mental Health America of Greater Houston and other leading wellness advocates for a person to have mental wellness it is more than the absence of disease.
“Wellness involves complete general, mental and social well-being; and mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being,” said Fordice. “The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.”
A dangerous and concerning factor that compromises a person’s health is negative stress. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people under chronic stress are prone to having a number of issues that affect their mental health, wellness and quality of life. Some of these symptoms include digestive problems, headaches, sleeplessness, depressed mood, anger and irritability more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold.
Over time, continued strain on the body from routine negative stress may lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorder, and other illnesses.
“Everyone is at risk of stress, and the effects of stress tend to build up over time,” said Fordice. “Taking practical steps to maintain your health and outlook can reduce or prevent these effects.”
In addition to routine health checkups, a few practical tips to get people of every age on the path to wellness include a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness, and connections to family, friends and the community.
“Roughly 1 in 5 Americans have a treatable mental health condition and just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it’s a good idea to take periodic stock of our emotional well-being,” said Fordice. “One recent study said everyone should get their mental health checked as often as they get a physical. Many doctors are routinely screening patients for general mental health by asking a series of questions about lifestyle, eating and drinking habits and mental wellness.”
For those who are unsure of how to get this process started, Mental Health America of Greater Houston offers, The Guide, a free online listing of low-cost area resources to help those in need get on the path to wellness. The Guide can be found at http://www.mhahouston.org/find-help/.
“Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one’s potential to lead a full and productive life,” said Fordice. “Using strategies that promote resiliency strengthen mental health and prevent mental health conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.”
Mental Health America of Greater Houston, established in 1954 by Ima Hogg, the daughter of former Texas Gov. James S. Hogg, is celebrating its 60th anniversary year as the area’s oldest mental health education and advocacy organization focused on shaping the mental health of people and communities in the areas of children and education, integrated care, chronic illnesses, women, veterans and aging.
Mental Health America of Greater Houston’s national organization, Mental Health America, established May is Mental Health Month 64 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for everyone.
Traci Patterson, Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, 713.520.3476