Mental Health Matters: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May 17, 2021

Mental Health Matters: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By Alan Neushwander.

This past year presented so many different challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency. The global pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined and a lot of us struggled with our mental health as a result. 

Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. We know that the past year forced many to accept tough situations that they had little to no control over. If you found that it impacted your mental health, you aren’t alone. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals that took the anxiety screening at MHAscreening.org, 79-percent showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of individuals and communities.

For example, West Michigan Community Mental Health offers a free mental health and wellness app called myStrength. The app has tools and resources for dealing with common mental health conditions and substance use disorders. It’s completely free and available in the AppStore or on Google Play. Use the access code WMCMHCommunity and you’ll be able to get started completely free. 

Mental Health America also has a Mental Health Month Toolkit called Tools2Thrive. The toolkit has practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health. The toolkit explores coping with big changes, recognizing trauma and increasing resiliency. To get started, visit mhanational.org/may.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is another great resource. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Their website, nami.org, provides support and education on numerous topics. In addition, the NAMI Helpline is available by calling 1-800-950-NAMI, or if you or someone you know is in crisis, you can text “NAMI” to 741741.

West Michigan CMH is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1-800-992-2061. Our phones are always answered by a live mental health professional. As the public behavioral health care provider for Mason, Lake and Oceana counties, we are here for anyone in our communities that need assistance. 

It’s important to remember that working on your mental health and finding tools to thrive takes time. Change won’t happen overnight. Instead, by focusing on small changes, you can move through the stressors of the past year and develop long-term strategies to support yourself on an ongoing basis.

A great starting point for anyone who is ready to start prioritizing their mental health is to take a mental health screening at MHAscreening.org. It’s a quick, free, and confidential way for someone to assess their mental health and begin finding hope and healing.

Ultimately, during Mental Health Awareness Month, West Michigan CMH wants to remind everyone that mental illnesses are real and recovery is possible. By developing your own tools to thrive, it is possible to find balance between life’s ups and downs and continue to cope with the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Alan Neushwander is the director of public relations and customer service at West Michigan Community Mental Health. He may be reached by calling (231) 843-5440 or email [email protected]

 

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