May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental and social well-being.

Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk of mental illness.

A person’s mental health can change over time. When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted. For example, if someone is working long hours, caring for a relative or loved one, or experiences economic hardship, they may experience poor mental health.

Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States. 

  • More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.
  • 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression.

There is no single cause for mental illness. A number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness.

  • Early adverse life experiences, such as trauma or history of abuse.
  • Experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditions such as cancer or diabetes.
  • Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain.
  • Use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Having feelings of loneliness or isolation.

It’s okay to not be okay. You are not alone. Take advantage of these employee and community programs to connect with others and to seek help for yourself, a family member, friend or colleague. Support groups, websites, screening tools, books, trainings, peer support, access to therapists, financial assistance and more are all available in Summit County.

BGV Minds is an employee Mental Health and Wellness Program that provides ongoing access, resources and education in support of living a balanced and healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. Information can be found here BGV Minds – ONEBGV.

Building Hope Summit County www.buildinghopesummit.org is a grassroots organization whose mission is to create a more coordinated, effective and responsive mental health system that promotes emotional health, reduces stigma and improves access to care and support to everyone in Summit County.

Anyone has the power to make a positive difference in their community when it comes to mental health and it starts by TALKING. Whether it’s a conversation on a chairlift, at a construction site, or in a high school classroom, perhaps one of the most powerful things you can do in your community is listen to someone with kindness, share openly about your own experience and start a positive dialogue around mental health. The change starts with you!