Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC, Licensed Mental Health Therapist
The Truth Contributor
The month of May in the United States has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month which began in 1949. Mental Health America (MHA) organization started Mental Health Awareness Month in efforts to bring awareness and education to the public about mental illnesses and the importance of mental health. Social media, mainstream media and even films are utilized to spread concerns about depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and suicide.
Negative attitudes and misconceptions (stigma) surround mental illnesses have often led to a nonchalant attitude or passive concern to one’s mental health. As individuals, we can often place our overall health after concerns for achievements and social status. If it were not for mandated physicals for one’s employer or school, many would not even consider a visit for a medical check-up.
Unfortunately, medical insurance in the United States often falls short of meeting the needs of our society such as the cost as well as the coverage. For example, many medical policies do not include mental health coverage or limited with high deductibles or co-pays for visits. Overall, historically, the topic of mental illness has been shunned, laughed at as “crazy” and viewed as some odd anomaly that if someone was diagnosed as mentally ill, it was bad luck, bad genes or just too bad.
Progress is being made slowly but surely and mental health can feel personal, as it should, but not so personal that it keeps us from reaching out or asking for some help especially after this latest pandemic. So, if you can’t afford medical insurance or if mental health is not covered in your plan or maybe you still have a personal hang up with talking to a stranger about how you feel, there are organizations that offer some assistance – free of charge.
Each year, the Mental Health America organizations provides a toolkit dedicated to a theme of that year. The month of May has passed but mental health far reaches 31 days. For 2021, the toolkit was named #Tools2Thrive “providing practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase their resiliency regardless of their personal situation.” Topics and tools covered “Adapting after trauma and stress, Dealing with anger and frustration, Getting out of thinking traps, Processing big changes, Taking time for yourself, Radical acceptance.”
The #Tools2Thrive website is user friendly and provides information on how to handle life stressors that are realistic and DIY (do it yourself) type prompts in both English and Spanish. Take a mental health moment to assess your thoughts and feelings about mental health, your mental health and where you stand. Even if you feel to be in optimal mind, body and soul take some time to review the information provided at the website to help loved one’s and others.
Don’t allow the lack of coverage or financial issues keep you from being the best version of you. In addition, realize that while life presently may be “okay,” unexpected issues will arise when least expected. I can’t help but urge, that if you need more help beyond a toolkit, reach out for additional assistance. While there may be pitfalls, there’s always additional support. Ask your medical provider for a referral, seek support from your community, your employer, school or even health department. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. Provide feedback or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org For appointment information please call 419.409.4929 (Telehealth is available for ongoing and new clients at this time as well as in person appointments available on Tuesdays and Fridays only). Office location is 3454 Oak Alley Ct. Suite 300 Toledo, OH 43606 www.bjgrahamcounseling.com