Protecting Your Mental Health

Almost one in five people have a mental health diagnosis, so when most people think of mental health, they think of such things as depression or some type of anxiety.  While those are mental health diagnoses, it is misleading to only think of mental health issues that have already reached a critical level and have caused someone to seek help and get a diagnosis.

  Another way to think about mental health is to consider what can be done to promote good mental health or to prevent mental illness.  This is not unlike what we think about in preventative medicine, like going for an annual medical check-up, getting a colonoscopy, or going for a mammogram.

Things that can promote good mental health include day-to-day activities such as getting adequate sleep, exercising, eating nutritious food, and having healthy relationships with others.  These things can optimize the probability of leading a productive life, being happy, and being available for those you love.  But there are other things that also can help with mental health such as limiting screen time for children and adults, teaching social skills and how to nurture relationships, learning healthy conflict resolution, and taking time to discover something you are passionate about.

We often think about and help with those in our lives who suffer from mental illness.  But during the month of May, Mental Health Awareness Month, and really every day, we should reflect on ourselves and those we love.  Consider how we are doing cognitively and emotionally, and whether we need to fine-tune our life skills to protect our mental health.