Mental Health Awareness Month

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States, and more than 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. Mental Health Month was founded by Mental Health America (MHA) back in 1949. Since then, MHA has been increasing awareness for mental health as a topic everyone should care about. This Mental Health Awareness Month, GPO is bringing you resources to help take steps toward understanding more about mental health.

Relapse Prevention and Recovery Promotion in Behavioral Health Services is geared toward mental health service providers but is also useful to people who are personally dealing with mental illness or who know a friend or family member struggling with mental health. This publication from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers an overview of techniques, approaches, and best-practice guidance for preventing relapse and promoting recovery from addiction and mental illness. It provides cognitive exercises such as proactive imagination (remembering a scene of a place that feels calm, relaxed, or serene) and thought diffusion (imagining placing distressing thoughts in a balloon, or on a cloud, and watching them float away). It also discusses physical ways of coping. These include deep breathing, walking in nature, practicing gentle movement, muscle relaxation, and even singing. Emotional methods of coping mentioned in the book include writing, making a gratitude list, and listening to or playing music. Finally, SAMHSA cites relational ways of coping. These include connecting with a person, or even a pet. (Did you know petting an animal lowers blood pressure and can alleviate stress?!) According to the book, “Behavioral health services are beginning to emphasize long-term recovery from substance use and mental disorders instead of focusing on multiple episodes of acute care.” Therefore, the publication focuses on promoting ongoing recovery. The book emphasizes that many people still don’t have access to the services they need. SAMHSA suggests tips on creating easy access to care for patients. It also promotes using a strengths-based assessment, rather than focusing on what is “wrong” with a person.

Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools is a resource for high school administrators, students, parents, and individuals with suicide and other life-threatening health issues. The book was funded by SAMHSA to help high schools and their partners prevent suicide and promote behavioral health among their students. The book offers data on youth suicide. One of the helpful facts to know is that suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. The toll among some groups, such as Native Americans, is even higher. Also included are an information sheet on bullying and a checklist of suicide prevention activities. Suggested prevention activities include implementing a written protocol for helping students who may be at risk of suicide as well as training staff on suicide prevention, among many others.

As is indicated by the CDC, mental health issues are incredibly common. This month, read up on mental health and help get the conversation going.

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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

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