Mental health issues are incredibly common. One in six adults in the US are living with mental illness. So it’s clear we need help. Read up on some ways to maintain your mental health.
What can I do to take care of my mental health?
If you think you’re handling a mental health condition, do not self-diagnose. Get treatment from someone who’s trained to help. And ask that person to help you find treatment facilities if need be. If you’re looking for an affordable psychiatrist or therapist, check with your insurance provider.
In addition to that, here are some tips that may improve your mental health. Like…
Physical health: Don’t skip over this one. Eating well, exercising, and sleep have each been tied to better mental health outcomes – and the link can go both ways. You don’t need to join a fancy gym to start taking care of your mental health. Run, don’t walk – but walking can help too.
Meditation: There’s evidence that hitting pause for a few minutes a day can seriously improve your mental health. Mindfulness meditation in particular. So breathe. Headspace is one way to get it done.
Thought patterns: Your thought patterns might not be doing you favors. Therapy can help. If you don’t have access to a therapist, you might be able to take steps to improve your mental health using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. Like examining some of your negative thought patterns and trying to reframe them. There’s evidence it works.
Connect: Humans are social creatures. Building relationships with friends and family can be really, really good for you.
Environment: Mental health can’t necessarily be treated in isolation. There are some situations – like your socioeconomic status or experience with violence – that are correlated with mental health struggles. You may need a change in your environment to experience better mental health outcomes.
What are my rights?
Health benefits: Access can be a major barrier to getting help. But most healthcare plans in the US are required to offer mental health benefits just like they offer medical or surgical benefits. So if you have insurance, there’s a good chance you can get subsidized access to mental health treatments, like therapy. Check with your insurance provider directly. This resource can also help.
Employee rights: Reminder that it is 100% illegal for your employer to discriminate against you because of your mental health condition. In many cases, it’s on your employer to provide accommodation so you can do your job right (think: time off for therapy, unpaid leave). If you’re worried about stigma – you may be able to describe your condition in vague terms. Either way, your employer’s not allowed to discriminate.
When should I see a doctor?
If you think you have signs or symptoms of a mental illness, go see a doctor. Mental health conditions don't improve on their own, and if untreated, a mental illness may get worse over time and cause serious problems.
What are the signs to look out for?
Signs and symptoms of mental illness can be different, depending on the condition, circumstances and other factors. Some examples include:
- Feeling sad
- Having a hard time concentrating
- Extreme mood changes
- Pulling away from friends and family
- Being significantly tired, having low energy and trouble sleeping
- Struggling with daily problems and stress
- Major changes in eating habits
- Excessive anger
- Physical problems, such as stomach pain or unexplained aches
- Suicidal thinking
What if I have suicidal thoughts?
If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, get help right away:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately
- Call your mental health specialist
- Call a suicide hotline number – in the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one
What if my friend needs help?
If it’s an emergency, call 911. If it’s a crisis, you can call 1-800-273-8255 or text SEIZE to 741741 to get free advice.
If your friend is not in immediate danger, you may just want to start a conversation about mental health. These kinds of convos can be tough. This resource can help.
There are often ways to actively take steps to improve your mental health situation. Take them.