These days, people take physical health seriously, prioritizing preventative measures, medication, exercise, and more. Sadly, the same can’t be said for mental health even though mental illnesses rank among the United States’ most diagnosed conditions every year.
But since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we want to shed light on the importance of this highly prevalent subject.
After reading this blog, you’ll understand what mental health is, how it’s diagnosed, and what actions we can take to improve it.
What Is Mental Health?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health refers to someone’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. When someone’s mentally healthy, everything seems to be okay. Good mental health provides a strong foundation for a person’s happiness and ability to contribute to society.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees mental illness as a concern. This is because stigma about mental health continues to thrive, and the results are what you might expect: depressing.
Nearly one in five adults live with a mental health condition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Worse yet, the CDC predicts that 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder in their lifetime.
Who Gets Mental Illnesses?
Because of the prevalence of mental illness, it’s helpful to understand as much as we can about mental health.
The American Psychiatry Association advises that 50% of mental illnesses begin at the age of 14, and three-quarters begin at age 24. Because mental illnesses impact people differently, symptoms vary from person-to-person, with some experiencing minor disruptions and others experiencing more crippling effects.
Warning signs can often indicate a shift in mental health. These signs can include but are not limited to mood changes, appetite or sleep changes, trouble concentrating, and more.
When people experience symptoms of declining mental health, then it is recommended to follow up with a mental health professional.
How Is Mental Illness Diagnosed?
Although warning signs may indicate mental illness, it’s best not to assume that anyone’s suffering from it. A traditional diagnosis is the only way to diagnose a mental illness.
According to the Mayo Clinic, diagnosing mental illness often includes the following:
- Physical exams
- Lab tests
- Psychological exams
During diagnosis, a healthcare provider will ask probing questions about the patient’s thoughts, feelings, and behavioral patterns. To develop a treatment plan, it is necessary to determine what type of mental illness may be involved.
Professional help can make a big difference for patients. But there are things patients can do in their daily lives to help improve their mental health.
Ways To Improve Mental Health
In addition to working with a healthcare provider’s treatment plan, preventative measures can also help improve mental health. According to the CDC, there are many different habits that can do this:
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Getting regular sleep
- Making time to unwind – with a hobby you like
- Connecting with other people
- Taking breaks from the news
It’s important to remember mental health can change over time. Just like physical health, mental health, can be affected by external factors. So for the same reason you might take time off work for your physical health, you ought to also take time off for your mental health. Taking a day or two to nurture your mental health can improve your overall wellbeing.
Getting help for a mental illness can seem intimidating, but, with proper diagnosis and treatment, it can change your life.
How We Can Help
We want you to know that you aren’t alone, and there are many different treatments for all mental illnesses.
So if you’re struggling with your mental health, we encourage you to break the stigma, get screened, and improve your mental health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.