Life is a series of choices, some of which we make on our own, some of which are made for us. Should I wear the red dress, or the blue? Should I buy the Ford or the Toyota? Should I have the hamburger or the fish for lunch?
Should I talk about my depression, or pretend everything’s OK?
May is Mental Health Month, the perfect time to talk about mental illness, to bring the issues out into the open and address them honestly and with compassion. Make no mistake: Mental illness affects many children and adults in the United States. Currently as many as 42 million Americans suffer from some form of mental illness: depression, anxiety, addiction, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia to name a few.
Compare that to the number of Americans living with cancer – 14 million – and you begin to see how low mental illness awareness is. The stigma attached to mental illness can be a barrier to treatment; people who need help are afraid to seek treatment for fear of becoming labeled. There’s a myth that mental illness can’t be effectively treated or that mental illness will go away on its own.
Here’s what the professionals at Bluegrass Community Mental Health Center would like you to know about mental illness:
• Mental illness is a lot more common than you think, affecting nearly 20 percent of Americans.
• Mental illness is treatable and the earlier treatment is sought, the better.
• We believe in recovery and that treatment helps individuals live their best life.
• Mental illness is a disease and not some kind of moral failing.
• People experience the symptoms of mental illness differently.
• Young people are affected by mental illness – 50% of all mental illness begins by age 14.
“It is important to understand early symptoms of mental illness and know when certain behaviors are potentially signs of something more,” said Don Rogers, Chief Clinical Officer, at Bluegrass. “As parents, friends and partners, we need to speak up early when we see adolescents engaging in risky behaviors and seek treatment.”
“Prevention, early identification, intervention and integrated services, such as those provided by Bluegrass work,” Rogers said. Bluegrass has been serving the mental health needs of individuals and families in central Kentucky for more than 50 years. As a non-profit organization, Bluegrass is focused on person-centered treatment, provided in a supportive and respectful environment. We us evidence-based practices to help people live their best life.”
Bluegrass is one of the largest community-based behavioral health providers in the country, working with more than 25,000 central Kentuckians annually, regardless of their life circumstances and ability to pay.
“When you, or someone you love, is dealing with a mental health concern, it can be a lot to handle,” Rogers said. “At Bluegrass, we know how difficult the decision to seek care can be.” The dedicated professionals at Bluegrass are skilled a treating a wide range of mental health issues. Services are provided by licensed, trained counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists. Case managers, peer support specialists and physicians work together to develop treatment plans that are grounded in the specific needs of the individual and family.
If you’ve been struggling with a mental health issue or you’re concerned about someone else, call the Bluegrass 24-Hour Helpline for questions, support and appointments at 1.800.928.8000.
31 days & 31 tips for better mental health
May 1: Value yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and avoid self-criticism. Do things you enjoy and make time to broaden your horizons.
May 2: Journal. Write down three things you are thankful for today and three things you accomplished. Carry this through every day to the end of the month.
May 3: Make a commitment to getting enough sleep. Most people need 7 to 8 hours every night.
May 4: Work on building strengths. First, do something you’re good at. Then try your hand at something you’d like to do better. Success at the first task will spill over to the second.
May 5: If you’re living with a mental illness, or in recovery, remember you’re not alone. Others are walking the same path. Reach out if you need help.
May 6: Set realistic goals. Decide what you want to achieve and write the steps you need to take to realize your goals. You’ll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment as you progress toward your goal.
May 7: Try something new, such as a new recipe, a new craft, the daily crossword puzzle. You don’t have to make a huge leap. Just the act of trying something new brings possibility to your life.
May 8: Spend time with someone you love. Close, quality relationships are key to a happy, healthy life.
May 9: Enjoy a special treat that you usually deny yourself: a piece of dark chocolate, long walk, a few extra minutes of sleep.
May 10: Exercise. Take care of your body. Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health.
May 11: Practice optimism. Instead of seeing the glass as half empty, think about it as half full. Find the good in everyday events.
May 12: Consider this: “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what lies within out to the world, miracles happen.” Henry David Thoreau
May 13: Laugh at mistakes. Mistakes in life happen. Try to see the opportunity to grow from mistakes.
May 14: Unplug your devices for the day or part of the day. You’ll be amazed at how much stress you’ll avoid.
May 15: Spend time with a friend face-to-face.
May 16: Read something that makes you feel good. It can be a magazine, a biography, even a favorite book from childhood. Reading helps to quite the mind.
May 17: Relaxation. Develop a routine to incorporate relaxation. It can be a bubble bath or sitting outside but find a small way to hit the pause button and breathe.
May 18: If something’s bothering you, write it down. Writing down your troubles helps to release them from your thoughts. As always, look for the silver lining in something bad that’s happened.
May 19: Give of yourself. Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. It’s a great way to meet people and you’ll feel good about helping someone in need.
May 20: Spend quality time with an animal. Don’t have a pet, offer to take a neighbor’s dog for a walk, volunteer at a local animal shelter. Engaging with animals is beneficial on many levels.
May 21: Color. Grab an adult coloring book or download pages from the internet. Coloring can help you focus your mind and release tension.
May 22: Visit those tourist attractions right in your hometown. See what others find amazing about Kentucky and reflect on how lucky you are to live where you do.
May 23: Consider this: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take that first step.” Martin Luther King Jr.
May 24: Forgive. Many people make the mistake of thinking forgiveness is only about the person who has offended. It’s about you, too.
May 25: Learn to manage stress. Stress is a part of life. Practice coping skills. Take a walk, write in a journal, remember to see the humor in life, take a few deep breaths to relax your body and reduce stress.
May 26: Smile. You’ll feel better, and you’ll get smiles in return.
May 27: Send a thank you note to someone who has done something nice for you.
May 28: Plan a cookout with your family or friends. You don’t have to do all the work. Ask everyone to bring a dish. The act of socializing fosters mental health.
May 29: Get some sunshine today. Get outside. Closeness to nature is an exercise in finding your center.
May 30: Think about the positive things that have happened in your life. The more you think about the positives the less power negativity has over you. Positive thoughts weed out the negative ones.
May 31: Break up the monotony. Routines can provide feelings of security and safety but a little change can perk things up – try a type of food, a new exercise class, or hanging new pictures.