Did you know that May is Mental Health Month? Here in Licking County, it’s more important than ever that we work together to elevate the conversation about mental health and start talking about our brain health the same way we talk about our physical health. It’s not enough that we talk about it in May – we need to talk about our mental health all year long.
Locally and across the country, we have experienced too many families impacted by unaddressed mental health issues and the outcomes, including suicides and overdoses. If we don’t address our overall mental health, things will only get worse. Too often we push our mental health aside and focus only on our physical health – but it’s important to do both.
It can start with taking a look at our overall health and making small changes every day to prioritize our mental well-being as part of our overall health. Remember, our heads and our bodies are connected and what happens to one plays a part in how healthy the other is. Mental illnesses are common and treatable. So much of what we do physically impacts us mentally – it’s important to pay attention to both our physical health and our mental health, which can help us achieve overall wellness and set us on a path to recovery.
A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help people recover from these conditions. For those dealing with a chronic health condition and the people who care for them, it can be especially important to focus on mental health. When dealing with dueling diagnoses, focusing on both physical and mental health concerns can be daunting but it’s critically important to achieve overall wellness.
There are things you can do that may help: Find a reason to laugh, go for a walk with a friend, meditate, or play with a pet. All of these activities or anything else you enjoy doing can go a long way toward making you both physically and mentally healthy. The company of animals – whether as pets or service animals— can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to recover from illnesses. A pet can be a source of comfort and can help us to live mentally healthier lives. And whether you go to church, meditate daily or simply find time to enjoy that cup of tea each morning while checking in with yourself, it can be important to connect with your spiritual side in order to find that mind-body connection. Mental Health America of Licking County offers Compeer, a program for those living with persistent mental illness, to provide regular socialization and wellness activities.
Living a healthy lifestyle is not always easy, but it can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. Finding balance between work and play, even with all of the ups and downs of life, can help you on focus on your overall health. Let’s start working toward being healthy #4mind4body during Mental Health Month and then continue throughout the year.
Printed in The Newark Advocate on May 19, 2019.