Mental Health Month

MENTAL HEALTHMONTH - MAY 2022
The pandemic has brought more focus to mental health concerns as we navigated through the disruptions of our lives and routines to adjust to those changes. However, the feelings of stress, isolation, and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic are not the only stressors that can affect our mental health as plenty of other factors can affect how you feel. With so much going on in our lives and the world at large, mental distress can seem inevitable at times. The stresses of work and family life, on top of concerns driven by events around the world, can feel begin to feel overwhelming. Learning to recognize the signs of mental distress –in yourself, your family, your friends, and your co-workers – is a great first step toward supporting mental wellbeing.
These signs may not always be easy to spot in ourselves, as we can be blind to these affects. So it is important that we pay close attention to changes in how we feel each day. If you’re not feeling like yourself, don’t ignore it. At work, your supervisor, safety professional or human resources representative can discuss options for keeping you safe and healthy. These can range from taking a break or time away to connecting with a mental health professional through an employee assistance program (EAP).

Increases in alcohol or drug use

Feelings of being drained, numb, lonely or worried

Changes in appetite, sleep patterns & attitude, such as becoming argumentative or frustrated

Failure to fulfill major life responsibilities

Withdrawal from important relationships

Disclosure of exceptional stress or mental health conditions

Though these might seem obvious, it can be difficult in the moment to recognize serious signs in others. This does not require you to do anything that feels uncomfortable. Sometimes it can be helpful to just check in and listen to how someone is doing.
 
Emotional distress and mental health symptoms can include nervousness, depression, confusion, inability to concentrate, mood swings and anger. You are at your best when you are feeling good physically and mentally. Whether there are personal or work-related issues weighing on you, resources are available to help you improve your mental health.

There are some basic steps we can all take to help reduce our feelings of stress and anxiety:

  • Eat healthy foods and make time to get regular exercise
  • Get enough sleep each day; remember, seven hours is the recommended minimum for adults
  • Take time away from work when you can, even if it is just to relax at home
  • Utilize healthy coping mechanisms, especially by engaging in hobbies and other activities that you enjoy
  • Reach out to your support systems, such as family and friends, even if you can only do so digitally. They are there for you!
Admittedly, it can feel difficult to follow these steps, especially when you’re already feeling overwhelmed and overextended. You may not make steady progress every day, but just focus on making healthy choices when you can. Sometimes you can help yourself by simply taking short breaks throughout the day or talk about your worries with someone you trust. Every step taken, even the small ones, is a step in the right direction and will help.
 
Because of the importance of our mental health, Mental Health America has named May as Mental Health Month. Their website (https://mhanational.org/) provides free, practical resources to introduce mental health topics like recognizing warning signs, knowing the factors that can lead to mental health conditions, maintaining mental wellness, seeking help for mental health.
Remember that everyone handles stress and anxiety differently.  Our stress load and mental well-being is impacted by a number of sources – work, family, friends, and even ourselves. This means we must all be mindful of both ourselves and others as we each address and cope with our individual stress and mental well-being.
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