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National Mental Health Month: Where to Start in a Changing World


This year’s theme of Mental Health Month is "Where to Start: Mental Health in a Changing World” (Mental Health America). Every year, this is an opportunity to promote awareness, provide essential resources and education, and advocate for the mental health and well-being of people across the nation.


Don’t get it twisted–mental health is just as important as physical health as it directly impacts overall well-being and quality of life. 

The significance of maintaining good mental health cannot be overstated. You need your mental health to be in top shape so you can show up as your best, most authentic self. Recognizing and addressing mental health challenges is crucial to fostering resilience and supporting thriving individuals and communities. Additionally, you need stabilized mental health to maintain a healthy physical body, a peace of mind and soul, and healthy balanced relationships (with yourself and with others).     


Most mental health conditions are manageable and treatable. Data reveal that one in five people will experience a mental health condition in any given year. Nearly half of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their lives. Some people may start to show symptoms as early as age 14. Signs and symptoms of a mental health condition may include: 

  • persistent feelings of sadness, 

  • anxiety, 

  • hopelessness, 

  • changes in sleep or appetite patterns, 

  • difficulty concentrating, 

  • withdrawing from social activities,  

  • increased irritability or mood swings,

  • uncontrollable thoughts or urges, or 

  • reactions to situations or people that are more intense than your friends or colleagues


It's important to note that symptoms can vary widely and can show up differently in people. It is never too early to seek treatment for mental health concerns. Early intervention can save lives. Check out the Mental Health Screening tool from Mental Health America at www.mhascreening.org. This tool is a free, easy to use tool to assess mental health symptoms.


You should seek professional help if you are experiencing persistent or severe mental health symptoms. There is no shame in seeking help.

You may have to go through a few mental health professionals before you find the right fit.  Look for a mental health professional who understands and respects your cultural nuances as well as your lived experiences. The relationship with your therapist can be just as important as the relationship with your best friend or partner, so don’t be afraid to interview therapists and ask them questions.  


Tips to Help Reduce Stigma Around Mental Health 

Understanding how modern life impacts mental health is important. Factors such as screen time, social drivers of health (including economic status, education, social inclusion, and access to resources), loneliness, the foods we eat, our daily routines, current events, and technology all play a role in how we move through the world and how the world impacts our well-being. Here are three tips to help reduce stigma. 


Normalize Conversations: 


Encourage open and honest conversations about mental health to reduce stigma and promote seeking help when needed. Far too often, we sweep things under the rug and try to pray our problems away (particularly in the Black community). In addition to praying (if that’s your thing), it is important to find support in your community. More than likely, others are going through (or have gone through) something similar. Leaning on your support system is very important to healing. Taking action to improve mental health resilience involves knowing when to seek support from friends, family, or coworkers, building coping skills to navigate life's changes, and utilizing available resources such as mental health screenings and professional help when needed. Your speaking up could be the encouragement that someone else needs to get professional help. It’s also important to try to lend a compassionate and non-judgemental ear when someone shares their experience with you.  


Supportive Relationships:


Your social network is a primary predictor of good health. Get you some supportive and nurturing friends. Release people in your life that don't have your best interest at heart. It is important to foster supportive relationships with friends, family, and community members who provide understanding, empathy, and encouragement. Also, relationships require action, check-in with yourself to see how you can be more supportive to your friends and even more supportive to yourself.


Prioritize Self-Care: 


Practice self-care activities such as physical activity, mindfulness, adequate sleep, healthy eating, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation.  Remember emotional self-care matters too. This includes noticing your emotions and thoughts around different situations, people, and topics.  What you notice will inform you about what areas in your life can use more attention or support, whether this support comes from a friend, coach or therapist.


Use Your Resources: 


Use mental health resources from trusted sources that are tailored to Black and Brown communities such as Clinicians of Color Directory - Find a Therapist of Color Near You or Therapy For Black Girls. These resources can include culturally competent therapists, support groups, and community organizations offering mental health services or resources.

Many people have to deal with lots of external stressors stemming from oppression, racism, sexism, and microaggressions among many other threats to our wellbeing.  Internal stressors can be equally threatening such as not being able to sleep, self-hate, low-esteem or flat out feeling like you can’t handle life.


As we navigate a world that is constantly evolving, Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of prioritizing mental well-being, seeking help when needed, and advocating for inclusive and accessible mental health care for all. Together, we can create a society where mental health is valued, supported, and celebrated.

By prioritizing mental health awareness, proactive support, and access to culturally responsive resources, we can promote mental wellness and resilience in Black and Brown communities.


Check out our educational resources on our website at www.beaconpublichealth.com to help educate and inspire positive behavior change. Let’s continue the conversation on social media. 

Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn: @BeaconPublic Health 



About the author: Cynthia Jones, LCPC/LPC, CEO and Founder of Emotional Upgrade and a Licensed Mental Health Clinician in DC, Maryland, and Virginia is dedicated to improving the mental health and inner peace of adults through psychotherapy, psychedelics, education, and community building.




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