Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month This May

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The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) celebrates Mental Health Awareness Month in May. It is a time to spread awareness about the signs and symptoms of living with a mental health challenge, educate the public to cultivate a sense of understanding and acceptance, and provide support throughout our communities across our great state of Nebraska. 

“Mental health is just as important as physical, emotional, and spiritual health,” said Tony Green, the interim Director of the Division of Behavioral Health within DHHS. “We must reduce the stigma associated with the term mental health. A visit to a counselor for some emotional support should be seen just as important as an annual visit for a physical. Check in with yourself on your mental health and overall well-being. Even though May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it is important to check in with yourself often and make your mental health a priority every day, 365 days a year.”

It is normal to experience times when you feel down, stressed, afraid, or anxious. Those feelings will usually pass, but occasionally they can persist and become more serious. Sometimes, people can feel alone and uncomfortable sharing about their mental health challenges, but it is important to remember that mental health challenges can happen to anyone. You are not alone. There is hope and there is help.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Mental health is important at all stages in life since it determines how to handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices in life. Everyone’s journey with mental health is unique and different. A person’s mental health can change over time depending on many factors, such as stress, physical health conditions, family or relationship conflicts, work or social demands, and finances.

According to Mental Health America, here are some tips to boost your mental health:

Express gratitude and achievement by using a journal. Include three things you are grateful for and three you accomplished today.

Step outside of your comfort zone. Experiment with a new recipe, try a DIY (do it yourself) project, or explore a new hobby or interest. Research shows that there is a link between creative expression and overall well-being.

Nurture the meaningful relationships in your life. Close, quality, relationships are good for a happy, healthy life. If you are looking to make new friends, seek local community events or volunteer opportunities to meet people with similar interests.

Take time to laugh. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy, or do an activity that brings you joy. Laughter can help reduce anxiety. Smiling can help lower your heart rate and promote calm feelings.

Work on your strengths. Build self-confidence by doing something that you enjoy and are good at.

Take a nature walk. A stroll through the park or a hike in the woods can increase energy levels, reduce depression, and boost overall well-being. Invite a friend or take your pet to accompany you. Spending time with animals lowers the stress hormone and stimulates feelings of happiness. If you do not have a pet, spend time with a friend or family member who has one or seek volunteer opportunities at a local shelter.

Strive for a good night’s sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60- and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do your best to make healthy choices. Eat healthy and regular meals, strive to get regular exercise, exercise good sleep hygiene practices, practice forgiveness, and build and nurture healthy relationships in your life.

It takes bravery, strength, and persistence to reach out for help. There is hope and there is help. Recovery means different things to different individuals, but it is always possible. Seek ways to raise awareness, this month and every month, to help build a strong and supportive community across Nebraska.

Need to talk or get immediate help in a crisis? Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to:

  • The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline; call, text, or chat 988
  • Your faith-based leader, your healthcare professional, or your student health center on campus.
  • Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, any time. (888) 866-8660
  • Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
  • National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)