May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we are sharing 20 resources for you and loved ones to utilize.

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by
Signos team
— Signos
Health & Fitness Writers
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Reviewed by

Signos team
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
May 20, 2024
May 2, 2024
— Updated:
May 2, 2024

Table of Contents

May serves as an important reminder of Mental Health Awareness Month, urging us to prioritize our mental well-being. Regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, or income level, mental health conditions can impact anyone. Recent data emphasizes the unprecedented mental health crisis our nation faces, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds, from young children to older adults.1 To put this into perspective, imagine standing in a room filled with people; statistically, at least one out of every five individuals likely grapples with anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions within the last year.

Amidst this challenge, there is hopeful news—mental health conditions are treatable. Many athletes, entertainers, and prominent figures have bravely shared their experiences, highlighting that individuals living with mental illness can lead fulfilling and productive lives. This encompasses serious conditions like bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia, which can significantly impact daily life and functioning. Similar to managing medical conditions such as diabetes, early and consistent treatment empowers individuals with serious mental illnesses to effectively navigate challenges and embrace meaningful, productive lives.

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Language Used to Discuss Mental Health

The more we engage in conversations about mental health collectively, the more these discussions become normalized, ultimately empowering individuals to seek the assistance they require. Thankfully, there's a growing trend of people openly discussing and prioritizing their mental well-being, treating it with the same importance as physical health. Many are also embracing self-care practices to enhance overall wellness. This is crucial because nurturing your mental health not only improves your physical and emotional well-being but also enhances your capacity to learn, work productively, and effectively manage life's challenges. However, self-care varies from person to person. While some may find solace in exercise, adequate sleep, and a balanced diet, others may benefit from joining support groups or consulting mental health professionals. It's essential to identify what works best for you.

Just as you might share tips with friends on maintaining a healthy weight or managing blood pressure, consider taking the opportunity this month to discuss how you're tending to your mental health. Reinforce the message that "it's okay to not be okay" and encourage individuals to seek assistance when needed. Furthermore, as you engage in these conversations, be mindful of the language you use; words hold power and can either dispel misconceptions or perpetuate them. Employing person-first language is one of the most impactful ways to communicate about mental health, emphasizing the individual before their diagnosis, disability, or other characteristics. For instance:

Instead of saying, "John is schizophrenic... or bipolar," opt for "John is a person who has schizophrenia... or who has bipolar disorder." Rather than describing someone as "suffering from a mental illness," use "experiencing or living with a mental illness."

It's crucial to use language that fosters inclusivity and respect. By employing open, compassionate, and equitable language regarding mental health issues, we empower ourselves and encourage others to seek the support they require.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="foods-for-mental-health">Foods Good for Mental Health and Blood Sugar</a>.</p>

Mental Health Action Day

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On May 16th, Mental Health Action Day presents an opportunity to move beyond mere awareness and into proactive steps for yourself, your loved ones, or your community. This might involve embracing a positive "mental health habit," such as maintaining a balanced diet, ensuring restful sleep, or engaging in regular exercise. Alternatively, it could entail extending support to a friend or family member facing challenges. 

Here are a few more strategies to ponder on Mental Health Action Day.

  • Practice gratitude: Think about what you’re thankful for—supportive family and friends, a safe home, or even a beautiful day. Or find something to celebrate, like a recent accomplishment. Consciously practicing gratitude may reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • Volunteer: Participating in community organizations and finding opportunities to help others can provide a positive boost and a sense of purpose.
  • Engage in random acts of kindness: Buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you, hold the door open for a stranger, or make food for a neighbor or colleague. Many small acts can brighten someone else’s day.
  • Practice mindfulness: Take a few minutes to meditate, take a yoga class, or do some breathing exercises to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  • Seek Help: Whether it is for yourself or someone else, seek help through many of the below resources. 

Showing Compassion

During Mental Health Awareness Month, in addition to prioritizing your own self-care, it's crucial to extend support to your loved ones.

  • Parents/Kids: If you're a parent or caregiver, have open conversations with your children about their mental well-being. Seeking assistance at the onset of mental health concerns or noticing early signs of mild behavioral issues can prevent these symptoms from escalating into more severe conditions.
  • Older Adults: Keep an eye out for older adults who may be grappling with bereavement, illness, or feelings of isolation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, suicide rates are increasing, particularly among adults aged 65 and older.2 Hence, it's vital to recognize warning signs and offer assistance when needed.
  • New Mothers: Reach out to pregnant individuals or those who have recently given birth to inquire about their emotional state. Approximately 1 in 8 women report symptoms of postpartum depression within the first year after childbirth—an experience that is common and should not carry any stigma. However, untreated maternal mental health issues can lead to tragic outcomes, including pregnancy-related deaths such as suicides, drug overdoses, and other unintentional injuries.

20 Free Resources to Utilize

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Accessing mental health resources is essential for maintaining well-being. Fortunately, there are numerous free resources available to support individuals in their mental health journey. Whether you're seeking therapy, support groups, hotlines, or online resources, these options can provide valuable assistance and guidance during challenging times.

In the United States, there are various free mental health resources available to support individuals in need:

1. Hotlines: Below is a list of hotlines that are currently available 24/7.

  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support to people in distress—you don’t need to be suicidal to reach out. Call 988 to be connected with a crisis counselor. Crisis counselors who speak Spanish are available by pressing 2.
  • Texting the 988 Lifeline: When you text 988, you will complete a short survey letting the crisis counselor know a little about your situation. You will be connected with a trained crisis counselor in a crisis center who will answer the text, provide support, and share resources if needed.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HELLO to 741-741 to be connected with a crisis counselor who will help you get through your big emotions.
  • Warmlines: Warmlines are staffed by trained peers who have been through their own mental health struggles and know what it’s like to need someone to talk to. For more information on warmlines, visit this link.
  • BlackLine: BlackLine provides a space for peer support and counseling while witnessing and affirming the lived experiences of those who are most impacted by systematic oppression with an LGBTQ+ Black femme lens. Call 1-800-604- 5841.
  • Caregiver Help Desk: Contact Caregiver Action Network’s Care Support Team by dialing 855-227-3640. Staffed by caregiving experts, the Help Desk helps you find the right information you need to help you navigate your complex caregiving challenges. Caregiving experts are available 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. EST.
  • Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: If you or a child you know is being hurt or doesn’t feel safe at home, you can call or text 1-800-4-ACHILD (1-800-422-4453) or start an online chat at childhelp.org to reach a crisis counselor. They can help you figure out the next steps to work through what is happening and stay safe.
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: A crisis line that individuals can contact when natural or man-made traumatic events occur, such as floods, earthquakes, and terrorist acts. The Helpline will provide information, support, and counseling. Call 1-800-985-5990.
  • Domestic Violence Hotline: If you’re experiencing domestic violence, looking for resources or information, or are questioning unhealthy aspects of your relationship, call 1-800-799-7233 or go to thehotline.org to virtually chat with an advocate.
  • NAMI Helpline: A free, nationwide peer support service providing information, resource referrals, and support to people living with a mental health condition, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers, and the public. Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), weekdays from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. EST.
  • StrongHearts Native Helpline: Call 1-844-762-8483. The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. CST.
  • The Trevor Project: The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth. Trained counselors are available 24/7 to youth in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe, judgment-free person to talk to. Call 1-866-488-7386, text START to 678-678, or start an online chat at thetrevorproject.org/get-help.
  • Trans Lifeline: Dial 877-565-8860 for U.S. support and 877-330-6366 in Canada. Trans Lifeline’s hotline is a peer support service run by trans people for trans and questioning callers.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: The Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Open 24/7, call 1-800-273-8255.

2. Community Mental Health Centers: Many communities have local mental health centers that provide free or low-cost counseling, therapy, and support groups for individuals facing mental health challenges.

3. Nonprofit Organizations: Organizations like NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and Mental Health America offer resources, support groups, educational materials, and advocacy efforts at no cost.

4. Online Therapy Platforms: Some online platforms offer free or low-cost therapy sessions with licensed professionals, such as Open Path Collective and BetterHelp (which may offer financial aid or sliding scale fees).

5. Government Programs: Federal and state government agencies often provide free or low-cost mental health services through programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

These resources can serve as valuable sources of support and guidance for individuals seeking mental health assistance, regardless of their financial situation.

Learn More About Healthy Nutrition With Signos’ Expert Advice

Managing stable blood sugar levels not only helps keep energy levels stable, providing good brain power but may also improve mental health or your mood. The bottom line: gaining insight into the glycemic index of foods could lead you to take greater control of your mental health. This understanding plays a positive role in managing your blood sugar levels while you concentrate on improving your health and wellness. 

The expert guidance provided by Signos can significantly benefit your health, whether your goal is weight loss or simply feeling better. Explore more about nutrition and adopt healthier habits by delving into Signos' blog, or discover if Signos' program is right for you through a brief quiz.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="how-to-increase-dopamine">9 Tips on How to Increase Dopamine & Feel Your Best</a>.</p>

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References

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2023). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP23-07-01-006, NSDUH Series H-58). Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2022-nsduh-annual-national-report
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, November 29). Suicide data and statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/suicide-data-statistics.html 

About the author

The Signos team is made up of a medical doctor, certified health coaches, a data scientist, and experienced health, science, and wellness writers.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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