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May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Much to Be Aware Of

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and when it comes to mental health, there is a lot to be aware of. It’s fitting that May is the month dedicated to increasing awareness of mental health. Spring is in full bloom. Buds are unfurling. Grass is greening and growing. Birds are singing and animals frolicking. Flowers are blossoming. The world is so beautiful in the spring because the sun shines and warms; also, the rain falls and cools. Spring is wonderful to enjoy; also, spring can bring allergies and misery. Spring is neither all good nor all bad. Being aware of spring’s positives and negatives can help us keep it in perspective, to enjoy the positives despite the negatives. I love that May, springtime, is Mental Health Awareness Month. The nature of spring is similar to mental health. Just as being aware of all facets of spring can help us live the season fully, so too can being aware of mental health help us live fully despite challenges and even mental illness.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month: What Should We Know?

May is dedicated to mental health awareness. In that spirit, there is much to know. One of the most important concepts regarding mental health is that it is all-encompassing. It’s experienced in many ways, in all of our complex being.

Mental health is how we feel. Emotions can be positive and uplifting, they can be negative and seemingly life-stopping, and they can be everything in between. When our emotions are low, we still can be mentally healthy. Mental health isn’t the absence of negative emotions but instead is the choice we make about how to deal with them. I love these wise words from Jonatan Mårtensson:

Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.

Mental health is how we think. An underlying principle of the counseling approach known as cognitive-behavioral therapy is that our external problems and stressors aren’t actually the problem; instead, the problem is how we think about these problems and stressors. Learning to be aware of our thoughts, to question and challenge them, and to replace them with more realistic thoughts drastically increases our mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health is what we do. Mental health is the actions we take, the behavior we choose, despite of our challenges. There are so many things about the world and people around us that we can’t control. What we can control is what we do about or in spite of them.

Mental health is who we are. It’s the actions we choose. It’s the thoughts we take charge of. It’s how we decide to handle all of our varied emotions. Mental health is something we create and practice over and over again. It’s not a passive state of being that we either have or don’t have. The great news about this is that we have control and power over our mental health and wellbeing.

How are you going to enhance your mental health?

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Tanya,
    I am searching for a hobby for myself (besides reading of course), and really thought about what else I was passionate about. I joined NAMI today because the one thing I would like to spread the word about is removing the stigma from mental illness. It is still so widespread it is unbelievable!! It doesn’t have to be with the NAMI, but on this particular topic, would you happen to know of any volunteer positions with this purpose in mind?
    Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Ann!
      This sounds great! Volunteering in areas you feel passionate about creates meaning in life and thus increases mental health and wellbeing. NAMI is a great organization to be involved with! I’ve actually been a volunteer with my local NAMI for several years. I’ve had to drastically reduce my time with them recently because of deadlines and such, but I know I’ll increase it again down the road. Did you do what I did at first and join the national organization? You can use their website to find local affiliates in your area. If there is one, you can check in with them to see what programs they have and what volunteer opportunities are available. There’s a wide range of things you can do with local NAMIs — there are opportunities to lead support groups, teach classes, give presentations, help in the office doing a variety of tasks, and more. Not every community has a NAMI affiliate office, though. If yours doesn’t, you can volunteer with other organizations. Many times counselors offices, doctors offices, hospitals, and community centers have information about what is in the area. This is such a good thing you want to do — for yourself and, like you said, to help remove widespread stigma. This is the way that will happen!

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