Being Aware and Taking Care of Your Mental Health
A new year has arrived and as you flip the calendar it’s time to begin scheduling your yearly preventive health visits such as your annual physical, vision exam, and visiting the dentist twice during the year.
But one area of your overall health that likely doesn’t receive the attention it deserves is your mental health. It may surprise you to learn that you can practice preventive care for this as well. It’s important to be aware that our mental health needs care and attention just like our physical health.
What you can do to improve your mental health.
Here are some ways you can practice preventive care for your mental health.
- Talk about your feelings with someone you trust
- Practice mindfulness/being present in the moment
- Practice gratitude
- Get quality sleep each night
- Make healthy eating choices and stay hydrated
- Stay active by exercising regularly
- Learn new skills
- Give to others/volunteer regularly
- Keep in touch with loved ones
- Seek professional help if you need it/join a peer support group
What is the different between mental health and a mental illness?
Mental health and mental illness are often considered one and the same, but technically they are different. Think of it like your overall health and then getting sick. You always have overall health, but sometimes an illness can impact your daily behaviors and actions, such as making you tired or requiring care at a hospital. Similarly, you always have mental health, but sometimes mental illness can develop and impact your daily life.
Mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts how you think, feel, behave or perform. It can affect how you interact with others, and how you complete daily tasks. Most forms of mental illness are treatable with medication, therapy, diet, exercise, and support. It is important to know that the sooner you seek help for a mental health condition, the faster you will find relief from symptoms.
In the United States, one in five adults lives with a mental illness and yet we often don’t recognize or talk about it due to stigma. Regardless of your age, gender, race, religion or income– anyone can experience a mental illness.
Some common types of mental illness are:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Postpartum Depression
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
What causes mental illness?
There is no one cause of mental illness. In some cases, it can be passed from generation to generation through family genes. In other situations, a traumatic event or changes to the environment or your brain’s chemistry could trigger an emotional or mental response.
The most important thing about mental illness is to understand that it can impact anyone for any reason. If mental health conditions run in your family, then staying on top of your overall health and wellness is important.
Resources for mental health support
Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation is dedicated to reducing stigma around mental illness, raising awareness and improving access to care in our state. Through a variety of grants and partnerships, we support mental health initiatives that are improving the overall wellness of Iowans.
Here are some statewide organizations to turn to for additional information or access to mental health resources.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help with a mental health crisis contact Your Life Iowa, which offers 24/7 support via phone, text, or live chat.
Let’s start the new year off right by taking a moment to reflect on our own mental health and planning our preventive actions. By staying on top of health and wellness, you will be ready to take on the year ahead, work toward your personal health goals, and maintain a healthy balance for overall wellness.