National Mental Health Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

Prioritizing Good Mental Health

With the effects of COVID-19 still lingering, now more than ever it’s important to instill practices and habits to support and sustain good mental health. Research indicates maintaining good mental health has lasting positive effects on our overall physical health, our relationships with others and our quality of life.

May is designated National Mental Health Month. Your local Capital Women’s Care team wants to share vital information about the importance of good mental health plus symptoms to be vigilant for to help you understand mental health concerns and know when to seek out professional help.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act as we cope with daily life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.

Good mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and aging.

A Common Health Threat

Mental health issues are a common health threat in the U.S. as evidenced through these statistics:

  • almost half of adults (46.4%) experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
  • 5% of adults aged 18 years or older experience a mental illness in any 1 year, equaling 43.8 million people affected.

In 2020, there were an estimated 52.9 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. with any mental illness or disorder (AMI), or 21% of all U.S. adults. Prevalence of any mental illness was higher among females (25.8%) than males (15.8%). Young adults aged 18 to 25 years had the highest prevalence of any mental illness (30.6%) compared to adults aged 26 to 49 years (25.3%) and those aged 50 years and older (14.5%). The prevalence of any mental illness was highest among adults reporting 2 or more races (35.8%), followed by white adults (22.6%). The prevalence of any mental illness was lowest among Asian adults (13.9%).

There were an estimated 14.2 million adults aged 18 years or older in the U.S. with serious mental illness (SMI), representing 5.6% of all U.S. adults in 2020. SMI prevalence was higher among females (7%) than males (4.2%). Young adults aged 18 to 25 years had the highest prevalence of SMI (9.7%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (6.9%) and aged 50 and older (3.4%). SMI prevalence was highest among the adults reporting 2 or more races (9.9%), followed by American Indian/Alaskan Native adults (6.6%). The prevalence of SMI was lowest among Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander adults (1.2%).

Females and young adults are most affected by mental health illnesses. While more females than males seek out professional mental health assistance for mental illnesses, young adults aged 18 to 25 years had the highest percentages of not seeking professional mental health assistance when compared to adults aged 26 to 49 years and those aged 50 years and older in both categories of mental illness classifications.

It's important to understand that recognizing and pursuing help with your personal mental health issues is not shameful. With the right tools and professional help, you can enlist positive mental health treatments, practices and strategies to enhance the quality of your overall health, leading you to enjoy a fulfilling life.

Women and Mental Health

Although research shows women and men have similar rates of mental health problems, the types of mental conditions differ between the sexes.

In a report by the American Psychiatric Association (APA):

  • Depression is the most common mental health problem in women is depression. Twice as many women experience depression in their lifetime than men. Approximately 1 in 9 women 18 years of age and older have had at least 1 major depressive episode during the past year.
  • Women are twice as likely to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) over men. Women are more likely to have hypervigilance, feel depressed and have trouble feeling emotions; men are more likely to feel angry and have alcohol or drug issues.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to experience generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder.
  • Women attempt suicide more often than men; however, men are 4 times more likely to die by suicide.
  • Approximately 85 to 95% of those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia and 65% of those with binge eating disorder are women.
  • Rates of schizophrenia are similar among men and women. Schizophrenia generally appears in women during their late 20s or early 30s; in men from late teens to early 20s.
  • Women are less likely to experience alcohol use disorder than men.

Initiating regular self-care practices and strategies within your daily life can help you manage your personal mental health.

Initiate Self Care

Mental health concerns present many different symptoms depending upon type of disorder, but oftentimes they include negative feelings, including hopelessness, sense of being overwhelmed, anxiousness or feeling depressed.

Sometimes, taking stock of your mental health and initiating self-care activities can alleviate negative feelings and turn those thoughts and feelings around. Some self-care activities you can implement to help boost your mood include:

  • exercising (e.g., aerobics, yoga or tai chi)
  • engaging in social contact (whether virtually or in-person)
  • enjoy a favorite hobby, sport or activity
  • getting adequate sleep on a regular schedule
  • eating healthy
  • talking about your feelings to a trusted friend or loved one
  • practicing meditation, relaxation, and mindfulness

The attached infographic from the National Institute of Mental Health(NIMH) offers further guidance to determine if you would benefit discussing your personal mental health with your practitioner. If your symptoms don’t improve or seem to be worsening despite your best self-care efforts, prioritize talking with your health care provider today.

When to Seek Help

Seek professional help if you experience these severe or distressing symptoms lasting 2 or more weeks:

  • difficulty sleeping
  • appetite changes resulting in unwanted weight changes
  • struggling to get out of bed in the morning due to mood
  • difficulty concentrating
  • loss of interest in things usually enjoyed
  • inability to perform daily functions and responsibilities
  • thoughts of death or self-harm

It’s important to reach out to your practitioner before symptoms become overwhelming. Talk about your concerns with your primary care provider, who can refer you to a mental health specialist if necessary. If you need guidance on talking with your practitioner, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider fact sheet can help you prepare for your visit.

If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741).

Mental Health Treatments

Your practitioner may recommend any or a combination of treatment:

10 Mental Health Tips

It’s important to take care of yourself. Here are some practical tips you can use to look after your mental health:

  • Talk about your feelings helps you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.

  • Get regular exercise to boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep and feel better. Exercise keeps your brain and other vital organs healthy and offers a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.

  • Eat well to provide your brain and organs the necessary variety of nutrients to stay healthy and function well. A well-balanced diet is not only good for your physical health but also your mental health.

  • Drink alcohol sensibly and avoid using it to change your mood or deal with fear or loneliness.

  • Stay in touch with loved ones and friends through social activities, texting or phone calls or send a note. Staying engaged with others is healthy for our minds.

  • Reach out for help when you feel tired, overwhelmed or anxious when something doesn’t go as planned. Family and friends are there to offer you practical help or to listen.

  • Take a break with a change of scene or change of pace to destress. Whether it’s 5 minutes away from a tedious task, a 30-minute lunch break or day trip exploring a new place, allowing “me-time” is essential for recharging our mind and maintaining good mental health.

  • Do something enjoyable to remove stress while boosting your self-esteem through a favorite hobby, activity or sport.

  • Accept yourself and feel good about who you are to build your confidence and self-esteem, especially helpful coping mechanisms during difficult times.

  • Care for others builds your relationships and brings you closer with those friends and family who are important to you.

Your Capital Women’s Care team of health experts is here for you should you have questions or concerns relating to your personal mental health or any women’s health issue. Our knowledgeable, compassionate professionals are dedicated to premiere, thorough health care and treatment so you enjoy a long quality life.

Sources:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health
https://medlineplus.gov/howtoimprovementalhealth.html
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health#par...
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/women-and-mental-health
https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/cultural-competency/education/w...
https://www.baylor.edu/communityconnection/news.php?action=story&story=2...
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db419.htm
https://www.everydayhealth.com/womens-health/mental-health-issues-in-wom...
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depre...
https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm

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The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

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