by Jessica Carey

Since 1949, Mental Health America and their affiliates across the country have observed May as Mental Health Awareness Month by reaching out to millions of people through the media, local events, and screenings.

This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Month is “Back to Basics.” After the last two years of pandemic living, many people are realizing that stress, isolation, and uncertainty have taken a toll on their well-being. The goal of Mental Health Awareness Month is to provide foundational knowledge about mental health & mental health conditions and information about what people can do if their mental health is a cause for concern.

Mental health awareness back to basics logo

What is Mental Health?

Mental health refers to our emotional and social well-being and impacts how we think, feel, and behave. It plays a role in connecting with others, making decisions, handling stress, and many other aspects of daily life. Everyone has mental health, and it deserves your attention just as much as your physical health does.

Why should I care about mental health?

Mental health is important for all of us. Taking care of yourself is critical to prevent your mental health from worsening – factors like nutrition and gut health, stress, sleep, relationships, trauma, and more can contribute to poor mental health. If your mental health is in a good spot, it is a great time to practice coping skills – ways to help you deal with hard feelings – so that you’re better able to handle tough times when they happen.

Is poor mental health the same as having a mental health condition?

You can have times of poor mental health without having a diagnosable condition – just like you can be generally physically unhealthy without having a particular illness. A mental health concern is anything that causes a person to believe their mental health may be suffering. You don’t need to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to be dealing with a mental health concern.

Many people struggle with not feeling “sick enough” to seek help early on in their mental health journey. The average delay between symptom onset and treatment is 11 years, meaning a lot of people spend months or years facing mental health challenges before getting a diagnosis. It is never too early to seek treatment – if you want help for your mental health, you deserve to get it.

What is a mental health condition?

A mental health condition, or mental illness, refers to a set of symptoms that have been identified by the mental health community. Mental health conditions are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), or by people with lived experience.

People with mental health conditions deal with changes in emotions, thinking, and/or behavior. For some, this means extreme and unexpected changes in mood – like feeling much 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. To be diagnosed, the changes in your thinking and emotions must be seriously hurting your ability to do the things you want to do; and sticking around longer than they should – weeks or months, depending on the condition. No matter what kind of mental health condition someone is facing, it’s always possible to recover.

Learn More: Mental Health Facts & Statistics

Quick Facts and Statistics About Mental Health

Terms to Know: A Mental Health Glossary

The B4Stage4 Philosophy

Mental Health 101

Learn About Specific Mental Health Conditions

For Mental Health Providers: Exym Mental Health EHR Software

If you’re a provider of mental health services that reduce stress and you’re looking for robust, intuitive EHR software, please consider Exym EHR Software.

Exym is a leader in behavioral health EHR software for behavioral health agencies. We proudly serve agencies across the United States with our intuitive, robust behavioral health EHR system. 50,000+ clients per month are served by clinicians who use Exym’s cloud-based EHR software to simplify their billing, documentation, and case management needs.

Some of this content was originally published on the Mental Health America website.