Mental health includes our emotion, psychological and social well-being. This affects how we think, feel and act, as well as how we handle stress, relationships and decision-making. Mental health problems can happen over a short period of time or be chronic conditions that have to be managed long-term. Mental health is influenced by your genes and brain chemistry, your life experiences such as trauma or abuse, and your family history of mental health problems.
Nearly 1 in 5 adults in America have a mental health problem. Mental health issues are more common in young adults than in older adults, and more common in women than in men. Three out of four people with mental health conditions show signs before they are 24 years old. Some of the most common mental health conditions are anxiety disorders, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder. If you are experiencing a mental health condition, remember that you are not alone! With help and treatment, you can recover from your mental health problem, or learn how to manage it effectively so that it doesn’t interfere with your quality of life.
If you’re not sure if you are experiencing a mental health problem, there are some early warning signs. If you are experiencing the following, reach out to your healthcare provider to find help:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling like nothing matters
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking or using other drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on-edge, angry, upset, worried or scared
- Fighting with family or friends
- Severe mood swings
- Having persistent thoughts or memories that you can’t get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Not being able to perform daily tasks like going to work or school
Here are some tips and strategies for maintaining mental health and wellness:
- Get professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist if you need it
- Connect with other people including family and friends
- Try to stay positive
- Get more physical activity – this releases chemicals in your brain that are proven to improve mood and mental health.
- Help others
- Get enough sleep
- Develop coping skills to manage in situations that are challenging to your mental health
- Here’s information to tell if your antidepressants are working
Visit MentalHealth.gov for more information on mental health conditions and how to get help if you are experiencing mental health problems.
Use this Screening Tool from Mental Health American to help understand different types of mental health challenges. Mental Health America also has resources and tools to help you manage your mental health issues. If you screen positive for a mental health condition, they will recommend resources.
OK2Talk is an online resource that serves as a safe space where teens and young adults can share about their experiences with mental health issues.
Project Semicolon Resource and Screening Tool, Love is Louder and Half of Us – great support for young adults to learn about challenges, combat stigma, and find support.
Interested in learning more about mental health facts in the US?
IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT HARMING YOURSELF, ARE WORRIED ABOUT A FRIEND OR LOVED ONE, OR WOULD LIKE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT call 1-800-273-8255 any time. Please visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline – it is a great resource with real-time help 24/7.
Thinking of becoming pregnant? If you have a mental health condition and are considering becoming pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about medications you may be taking for a mental health condition. The hormones of pregnancy can affect your brain chemistry and change your mental health during and after pregnancy. Create a plan to be aware of your mental health and seek help if changes occur. Ask your provider about continuing medications. It is also helpful to know what to expect during pregnancy and postpartum related to mental health – there are studies that link postpartum mood disorders with pre-pregnancy conditions.
Mother to Baby has quick facts about medicine, exposures, and things to consider avoiding if you are trying to get pregnant or pregnant/breastfeeding.
Everyone deserves access to a trained professional who understands and listens. Need support? If you have health insurance, check out your coverage and ask for help finding someone in network. Ask your friends – it is okay and important to talk about this with people you trust. You can contact online at the NAMI website or call the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-NAMI or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741.
Just like bodies, eating disorders come in many different forms. Some things all eating disorders have in common is that they are treatable and the chances for recovery increase the earlier they are detected. Eating disorders can be either restrictive (eating too little or eliminating many types of foods), binge-type (eating large quantities of food), or both, and some eating disorders may be hard to identify because they may appear to be “healthy eating” (just taken too far).
It is important to be aware of some of the warning signs of an eating disorder so you can get support or help someone you love get support.
How to know if help is needed. Not sure if you or someone you know is struggling? Here is a free, anonymous screening tool. Be sure to check out the local service locator, and resources about different types of eating disorders.
The NEDA Helpline is available Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM ET, and Friday from 9AM to 5PM ET. Contact the Helpline for support, resources and treatment options for yourself or a loved one. Helpline volunteers are trained to help you find the information and support you are looking for. You may reach the Helpline at (800) 931-2237, via online chat, or texting service.
Thinking of becoming pregnant? If you have experienced or are experiencing an eating disorder, gaining weight during pregnancy can be triggering and frightening. It is important to address the thoughts and behaviors associated with your eating disorder prior to becoming pregnant as eating disorders are dangerous for both you and your baby. It is recommended that you eat well-balanced meals and maintain a healthy weight for several months before becoming pregnant and throughout your pregnancy. More information about pregnancy and eating disorders is available on the National Eating Disorders website.
Stress and anxiety are common conditions that many people face. If you don’t feel right, tell someone. Finding balance and managing stress can be challenging, but finding strategies to care for yourself is crucial. YOU matter! Not everyone has the same stress relief solutions and practices. What works best for you may be different than someone else and may vary based on your situation or the time of day.
Here are a few resources for mental well being:
Use this Screening Tool from Mental Health American to help understand different types of mental health challenges.
Minding Your Mind is a resource designed “to provide mental health education to adolescents, teens and young adults, their parents, teachers and school administrators.” More specifically, their goal is “to reduce the stigma and destructive behaviors often associated with mental health issues.”
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation provides some everyday mental health tips, including the following:
- Practice self-care and make yourself a priority
- Disconnect from electronics and social media
- Engage in activities that provide meaning
- Avoid heavy substance abuse
- Get help from a licensed mental health professional when and if you need it
This BBR Foundation website provides ample stress management resources. This includes warning signs, relaxation techniques and stress research.
Here are a few apps that may help relieve stress:
- TalkSpace App
- Pigment Adult Coloring Book App
- Lantern App
- Breath2Relax App
- Gratitude Journal App
- SAM: Self Help for Anxiety Management App
- InteliCare App
- Happify App
- Headspace App
- Stop, Breath & Think App
Tara Brach is a Ph.D, psychologist, author and teacher of meditation. She provides resources that may be useful when dealing with stress—such as audio talks and guided meditation. Check out Tara’s website! Brene Brown, LCSW, has a wonderful talk on Netflix, free podcasts and great books that can be really helpful too.
Just not feeling right? Talk to your health provider about support available. If you or someone you know may be thinking about harming oneself get help immediately. You can call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).