May is Mental Health Month. The Crawford-Marion ADAMH Board has been highlighting what individuals can do daily to prioritize their mental health, build resiliency in the face of trauma and obstacles, support those who are struggling, and work towards a path of recovery.

While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. Mental illness or a mental disorder is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, emotional state, and behavior; disrupts the person’s ability to work, carry out daily activities and/or engage in satisfying relationships.

A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, linking causes – such as genetics, environment and lifestyle – influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.

The impact of Covid-19 has been high. We have seen sustained fear and anxiety due in part to an economic downturn and many have experienced collective grief and loss from significant changes to their daily routines. Physical distancing has led to social isolation and has caused disruption on many levels. This has led to individuals being at risk for developing a condition like depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); a worsening condition; or a complete recovery relapse.

Mental and substance use disorders stem from economic hardship and are drivers of lower productivity, increased healthcare costs, and higher mortality. A recent study revealed that depression and anxiety have an estimated cost to the global economy of $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.

The good news is there are practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency – and there are ways that everyone can be supportive of friends, family, and co-workers who are struggling with life’s challenges or their mental health. We all have a role to play in making mental health visible. We can reassure, normalize, show empathy, listen, and be available. We can learn and share signs of common mental health conditions and encourage friends and loved to access services.

The ADAMH Board funds programs to help individuals all of ages. Two examples are the Signs of Suicide (SOS) program and Mental Health First Aid. SOS is an evidence-based, universal depression awareness and suicide prevention program designed for middle-school or high-school students. Participants certified as Mental Health First Aiders have the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

The ADAMH Board wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is possible. Finding what works for you or a loved one may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. It is possible to find balance buy twitch followers between the ups and downs of life, and physical health and mental health – and set yourself on the path to recovery.

Bradley DeCamp is executive director of the Crawford-Marion ADAMH Board.

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