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Health and Wellness
May Is Mental Health Month
Wellness Consultant
Wednesday, May 2, 2012 • Posted May 10, 2012 9:05 AM

Mental health remains a top public concern, often misunderstood and difficult to diagnose. However, since 1949 May has been officially recognized as Mental Health Month. That's more than 60 years of helping people better understand mental illness, how to take care of their own mental health and act as caregivers for others, and overcoming mental health stigma.

This year's awareness campaign is focused on the mental health of young people. The emphasis is on maintaining and protecting mental health and wellness by social connectedness (having family, friends, and meaningful relationships).

Mental disorders are common in the United States and internationally. An estimated 22.1% of Americans ages 18 and older, about 1 in 5 adults, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Mental disorders can also affect children. According to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), mental health problems affect one in five young people as well.

Recognizing the signs of mental illness is important. Feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, or sleep problems are not uncommon. However, when these feelings get very intense, last for long periods of time, or begin to interfere with school, friendships and other relationships, it may be a sign of a mental illness. Depression, attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety, withdrawn or destructive behavior, and eating disorders are all types of diagnosable mental disorders found in children. Although mental disorders in children are appearing more often, great advances have been made in the areas of diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders in all ages.

I taught psychiatric nursing many years ago (in the late 1960s) at Duke University. Care and treatment, as well as understanding, have come a long way since. Everyone has “mental issues.” There is no such thing as perfect mental health, no more than perfect physical health. Everyone gets an occasional cold, allergy or flu… not everyone gets stage four cancer. Everyone feels sad, at times… not everyone gets suicidally depressed.

Mental health is how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and the "golden years."

In the next few articles, I plan to focus on the importance of mental wellness and the steps everyone can take to improve their well-being and resiliency in the face of difficult times and challenges throughout life's journey.

Disclaimer: Facts in these articles are obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published trade books. These articles have been written and published strictly for information purposes. Consult your health care provider for your specific medical needs. For any questions, comments or suggestions contact Maryella at maryella@4-spirit-soul-body.com or www.maryellajuiceplus.com

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