Mental Health

Mental Health is our psychological, and social well being. Just like our physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. There are plenty of factors that can contribute to mental health problems including: life experiences(such as trauma or abuse), family history of mental health problems, biological factors(such as genes or brain chemistry). Mental health problems can be common but help is available. Individuals with a mental health diagnosis or problem can get better and many recover completely. 

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive mental health allows people to:

-Realize their full potential

-Cope with the stresses of life

-Work productively

-Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

-Getting professional help if you need it

-Connecting with others

-Staying positive

-Getting physically active

-Helping others

-Getting enough sleep

-Developing coping skills

Early Warning Signs:

If you aren't sure if someone you know is living with mental health problems some of these signs or symptoms can be an early indicator of a problem:

-Eating or sleeping too much or too little

-Pulling away from people and usual activities

-Having low or no energy

-Feeling numb or like nothing matters

-Having unexplained aches and pains

-Feeling helpless or hopeless

-Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual

-Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared

-Yelling or fighting with family and friends

-Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships

-Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head

-Hearing voices or believing things that are not true

-Thinking of harming yourself or others

-Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school.

“It bears repeating: your love, acceptance and patience are more effective than you will ever realize!”

How can you help someone living with a mental illness?

Family and friend support is vital to recovery for someone living with a mental illness. The support can save a loved one's life. Here a few tips on how to love and support someone living through this:

-Inform yourself as much as possible about the illness being faced. Get the truth not the myths. Local mental health associations are terrific resources to help you understand the illness and route recovery often takes. It's also an ideal place to find others going through or who have gone through similar situations.

-Start dialogues, not debates. If your family member doesn't agree she or he has an illness, talk about it; find out why. Listen without trying to change them or their mind. Forget the power struggle. Focus on building trust and rapport.

-Instead of guessing what helps: ask. Even if your family member has difficulty telling you what would be helpful, asking how you could support, demonstrates you don't think you know best( even if you believe you do). It gives room for empowerment and self-awareness to take root. See if the requests are doable. Be honest with what you can take on. Once the discussion begins, keep it going. 

-Check with your company or union to see if they have an employee assistance program that includes counseling. Spouses are often eligible too. If you don't have access to an EAP, with some digging you can find free or affordable counseling(Project S.A.V.E services are free). If you have a family doctor, ask him or her. Local health teams, community mental health centers, family services agencies, churches, even local universities offer supervised practices, and some therapists have sliding fee scales. 

Other important reminders for family members and loved ones:

-Keep yourself well and pace yourself. Over-extending yourself will only cause further problems in the long run.

-Avoid falling into the role of 'fixer' and 'savior'.

-Offering objectivity, compassion and acceptance is valuable beyond measure.

-Know that even if your actions and love may seem to have little impact-they are making a difference.

-Have realistic expectations. The recovery process is not a straight line nor is it one that happens quickly.