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Mental Health Awareness Month: How’s Your Mental Health?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s a good time to ask yourself, “How good is my mental health?” 

What Is Mental Health?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines mental health as a person’s “emotional, psychological and social well-being.” Mental health can impact every area of your life from your interactions with other people to the choices you make and your ability to cope with the stressors in your life.  

According to the CDC, mental health issues are one of the most common health conditions in the United States. The CDC estimates that:

  • One in five adults suffer from a mental illness
  • More than one in five young adults experience a mental illness at some time in their lives
  • One in 25 adults have a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia 

Mental health impacts everyone. According to the CDC, several issues can contribute to the development of a mental illness, such as:

  • Experiencing adverse childhood events (ACE) such as physical, mental, or sexual abuse
  • Struggling with drug or alcohol addiction
  • Feeling isolated
  • Suffering from a debilitating disease like cancer   

The CDC also has a mental health quiz for anyone to take. Through this quiz, you can find out more about mental health and understand the facts regarding your own mental health.

Your Mental Health Varies During Different Stages of Your Life

Mental health commonly vary throughout a person’s life all the way from childhood to their senior years, because the struggles and challenges people face will be different at every stage of their lives. For example, some of the challenges a person might face as a child or teenager may come from school-related problems or difficult friend or family relationships.

As someone gets older, struggles and stress may come in the form of financial troubles or marriage difficulties. In later years, a person may have to deal with caring for loved ones or even the loss of family members. 

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health

Knowing how to cope with life’s day-to-day problems and challenges can keep your mental health in check. It can also contribute to your overall health and well-being. 

So how can you take care of your mental health when life gets to be a bit too much? Stress is inevitable in life, but how we handle stress is important for our mental health. 

There are many ways to cope with stress, and each person must find the right outlet. Here are some tips for managing your mental health:

  • Make sure to eat a healthy diet so your body gets the appropriate nutrition.
  • Get enough sleep each night so you feel well rested and rejuvenated.
  • Take a walk or participate in some other form of physical exercise to lower your cortisol and adrenaline levels. Lowering the level of these stress hormones can make you feel more relaxed.
  • Limit your alcohol use.
  • Talk with friends, family or whomever is your support system.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, the CDC has a host of online resources. Other resources available at the University include:

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Dr. Hoban earned her Ph.D. in cellular molecular biology and physiology from Georgia State University in 2008. She earned her MPH degree in 1997 from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. Dr. Hoban has worked in maternal and child health and vaccine-preventable diseases. She was the project director for the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) in Georgia for over six years and was also the project director for the Georgia Immunization Study for over seven years. Dr. Hoban has numerous published articles based on her work in both vaccine-preventable diseases and maternal and child health. She is also currently a peer reviewer for the Maternal and Child Health Journal.

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