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Back to the Basics of Mental Health

Can we all just say it? The last few years have been tough! Between the ongoing pandemic and many forms of systemic oppression to the war in Ukraine, the news can feel like a bit of a downer. Maybe that’s an understatement. But the reality is, many of us experience what is happening in the news in our own lives. People are starting to have mainstream conversations about mental health – which is a good thing – so, it’s time to break the stigma around mental health!

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, and we thought it would be helpful to break it down to the basics.

What is mental health?

According to opens in a new windowMental Health America, mental health refers to our emotional and social well-being. It impacts how we think, feel and behave, and it plays a role in connecting with others, making decisions, handling stress and many other aspects of daily life. Everyone’s mental health deserves attention just as much as our physical health.

What are some common mental health conditions?

Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are among the most common types of mental health conditions. They can also include attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eating disorders and dissociative disorders.

Who experiences mental health concerns?

The short answer: more folks than you think! Look around you and count five people. At least one is experiencing a mental health concern. It could be your neighbor, a KD sister, a teacher or someone you work with. In fact, twenty-one percent of all U.S. adults live with a mental health condition, and 46 percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some time in their life. The scary part of it all is that only half of those affected receive treatment, often because of the stigma attached to mental health and barriers or access to treatment.

Why do people have mental health concerns?

Most mental health conditions don’t stem from a single cause – there are many possible causes or risk factors. Research suggests that genetics, environment and lifestyle can influence whether someone develops a mental health condition, but that’s still a lot of causes to even try to pinpoint! Sometimes it’s a stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events. The way your brain is structured and functions may play a role, too. The more , the more likely you are to develop a mental health condition in your lifetime. Mental health conditions can develop slowly, or symptoms can start to appear more suddenly after you’ve experienced a stressful event or big change.

What are some warning signs?

Everyone has an occasional bad day, but when things that used to be easy become a lot more difficult, something’s going on. Make sure to stay in tune with yourself and ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I wanting to spend more time alone?
  • Am I losing interest in things I used to enjoy?
  • Do I have trouble focusing enough to follow conversations with friends?
  • Am I easily irritated and lash out at people that I care about?


How do I maintain better mental health?

Mental health plays a big role in your overall well-being. , you’re more likely to enjoy your life and the people in it, feel good about yourself, keep up good relationships and deal with stress. It’s normal for your mental health to shift over time – we all face difficult situations in our lives, some more than others. Creating positive habits is a great way to support your mental health when you’re doing well and helps you build skills to use if you do face symptoms of a mental health condition. Here are some positive habits to consider:

  • Exercise regularly – just 15-30 minutes a day can make a difference!
  • Get quality sleep! You might need to put your phone down earlier than usual.
  • Make wise food choices, this means cutting out some of the junk!
  • Manage stress. Maybe it’s through meditation or venting to a friend, either way know what works for you!
  • Make time for the things that make you This might be going on a walk, listening to your favorite podcast, meditating, cooking, planning a date with your friends, the list goes on!
  • List out some go-to coping skills you can utilize when stress comes your way.
  • Build out your support system – your sisters are a great place to start.
  • Talk to someone you trust. Friends, family or a professional therapist.


How do I support people who experience mental health concerns? 

Support might look different depending on where your loved one is on their journey. It could start with spotting some warning signs and expressing your concerns. Tell them you’re there to support them, but keep in mind, they may not be ready to share right away. If that person does confide in you, listen without judgement and focus on what they need in that moment. Encourage them to talk with a mental health provider – you can even help search for one. But the most important thing is to show them you care. Be patient with them, educate yourself and know your limits.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t mean you’re broken. Navigating your mental health struggles and healing is a journey – not a straight line. With the right resources and support, improving your mental health is possible!

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