Mental health has long been a sticky subject for too many for the wrong reasons. For some, mental health issues are such a stigma, people won't discuss it or get help for themselves or loved ones. They'd rather hide it in a "closet" in fear of reputation ridicule. They suffer, allowing the issue to fester until it's too late. They and their loved ones go down a rabbit hole and never recover. They can take their life or someone else's.
As we have seen in recent news, mental health is a serious problem. It should not be ignored. We must all come to terms with it. We are all affected and impacted by it. This is why Look Around, Look Within, is the theme from Mental Health America for the month of May. Read the foreword by Schroeder Stribling, President and CEO of Mental Health America to discover the why behind the theme.
Look Around, Look Within: Your surroundings say a lot about your mental health Take a moment to consider your surroundings. Do you feel safe? Do you have access to health care and grocery stores? Does your home support you, both physically and mentally? This Mental Health Month, challenge yourself to look at your world and how different factors can affect your mental health. Where a person is born, lives, learns, works, plays, and gathers, as well as their economic stability and social connections, are part of what is called “social determinants of health” (SDOH). The more these factors work in your favor means you are more likely to have better mental well-being. However, when it seems like the world is working against you, your mental health can suffer. While many parts of your environment can be out of your control, there are steps you can take to change your space and protect your well-being.
Work toward securing safe and stable housing: This can be challenging due to finances, age, and other reasons, but there are a few things you can try, such as reaching out to state/local agencies to secure housing, removing safety hazards in the home, or finding another space (such as a community center or friend’s home) where you can get the comfort you are missing at home.
Focus on your home: Consider keeping your space tidy, sleep-friendly, and well-ventilated. Surround yourself with items that help you feel calm and positive.
Create bonds with your neighborhood and community: Get to know the people living around you, join or start neighbors- helping-neighbors groups, and support local businesses to challenge gentrification.
Connect with nature: Hike in a forest, sit in a city park, bring a plant inside, or keep the shades open to absorb natural light. If you’re taking steps to improve your surroundings but are still struggling with your mental health, you may be experiencing signs of a mental health condition. Take a free, private screening at mhascreening.org to help you figure out what is going on and determine next steps. The world around us can be both positive and negative – bringing joy and sadness, hope and anxiety. Learn more with Mental Health America’s 2023 Mental Health Month toolkit, which provides free, practical resources, such as how an individual’s environment impacts their mental health, suggestions for making changes to improve and maintain mental well-being, and how to seek help for mental health challenges. Go to mhanational.org/may to learn more.
For Mental Health Month this year, Mental Health America is encouraging individuals to look around and look within. From your neighborhood to genetics, many factors come into play when it comes to mental health conditions. We encourage everyone to consider how the world around them effects their mental health.
Mental Health America’s 2023 Mental Health Month toolkit provides free, practical resources, including information about how an individual’s environment impacts their mental health, suggestions for making changes to improve and maintain mental well-being, and how to seek help for mental health challenges.
Your surroundings can impact if, how, and when your needs are met, which in turn affects your mental health. However, you can take steps to change your space and protect your well-being.
If you constantly feel worried or sad about where you live, one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition is to take a mental health screening at mhascreening.org. HOUSING STABILITY AND HOME ENVIRONMENT
Having safe, stable, and healthy home conditions set the foundation for achieving and maintaining good mental health.
For many people, not having a true “home base” to consistently return to can leave them feeling distressed, disconnected, or isolated. Stable housing allows individuals to develop routines and connections to their local community, which are beneficial for mental health.
Wherever you call “home,” it should give you feelings of comfort, support, and calmness. If not, there are things you can do to your space to help you be more productive, reach your goals, and improve your mental health. COMMUNITY
The area, or ZIP code, that you live in plays a significant role in how healthy you are.
A strong sense of community within neighborhoods protects mental health through shared support, resources, and joy.
Challenges like gentrification, community violence, and lack of access to resources can negatively impact mental health. While many of these can be out of your control, being an advocate for change and making healthy community connections can bring hope.
Spending time in nature is linked to many positive mental health outcomes, including improved focus, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of developing mental health conditions, and a sense of connection to yourself, community, and purpose.
Being around nature doesn’t have to mean hiking in a forest. It can be walking in a park, bringing a plant inside, or sitting in your backyard.