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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By Pastor Dean Rudloff,

The Lake County Mental Health Task Force, The North Shore Mental Health Group

While mental health is important to address year-round, Mental Health Awareness Month provides a dedicated time for people and or­ganizations to join their voices to broadcast a message of mental well-being. To this end, and throughout the month of May, The Lake County Local Mental Health Task Force and The North Shore Mental Health Group will post messages regarding our Mental Health and saying: Mental Health Matters!

We all have mental health, it affects how we think, feel, and act every day. However, men­tal health is often ignored until something is going wrong. The best way to prevent that is to pay attention to one’s mental health even when they’re feeling ok or even good.

We all have days when we feel better than others. And just like with our physical health, we can all do things that make us mentally healthier. Mental health plays a big role in our overall well-being. When we’re mentally healthy, one can enjoy their life and the peo­ple in it, feel good about themselves, keep up good relationships, and manage stress.

A mental health condition, or mental ill­ness, refers to a set of symptoms that have been identified by the mental health commu­nity. People with mental health conditions experience change in emotions, thinking, and/or behavior. For some, this means ex­treme and unexpected changes in mood, like feeling more sad or worried than usual. For others, it means not thinking clearly, pulling away from friends and activities you used to enjoy, or hearing voices that others do not.

No matter what kind of mental health con­dition someone is facing, it is possible to heal. Having poor mental health is not the same as having a mental health condition. We all have tough days and weeks; struggling with your mental health doesn’t automatically mean you have a mental health condition. To be di­agnosed, with a mental health condition, the changes in your thinking and emotions must be seriously hurting your ability to do the things you want to do, and the symptoms are staying around longer than they should, like weeks or months.

We all have mental health every day. Achieving or maintaining mental wellness takes work. Mental Health America (https://mhanational.org/science/maintaining-men­tal-wellness)  has resources available on how to maintain mental wellness.

Mental health is all around us but is of­ten misunderstood. The Roadmap to Mental Health (https://www.thementalhealthcoali­tion.org/mhcs-roadmap-to-mental-health/) , is a resource to help explain and provide lan­guage on what we mean when we say “men­tal health.”

There are many harmful attitudes and mis­understandings around mental health condi­tions and mental illness. This can make peo­ple ignore their mental health, fuel stigma, and make it harder to reach out for help. You can Take the Mental Health Quiz ) and see if you can separate the myths from the facts. Go to: (https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/quiz/ index.htm)

Throughout the month of May the Minne­sota Department of Health is featuring a train­ing that you can participate in to help others who may be experiencing life challenges or suicidal experiences. On May 1 at 11 a.m. go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chang­ing-the-narrative-on-mental-health-and-sui­cide-tickets-600734622427 to learn about Changing the Narrative on Mental Health and Suicide Talking about mental health and suicide can be an uncomfortable and uncer­tain topic that can bring up different feelings, beliefs, and attitudes for everyone. Changing the Narrative on Mental Health and Suicide, empowers conversations to start in the hopes to change perceptions of mental health to­wards hope and resilience.

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