May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This started in 1949 by the National Association for Mental Health, now called Mental Health America. Each year they release a tool kit and theme for the purpose of ending stigma and increasing knowledge of mental health.
“The theme of Mental Health Awareness Month 2023 is LOOK AROUND, LOOK WITHIN, according to Mental Health America. Mental health professionals’ aim is to emphasize the ways that our surroundings — like safe and stable housing, healthy home lives, neighborhoods and cities, and nature — affect our mental health.”
The toolkit provides information, links, tests and resources. Please click on the link at the bottom of the article to explore this awesome resource. With the theme, “Look Around, Look Within”, it addresses four main areas:
- Safe and Stable Housing: Housing is more than just protection from the outdoor elements. Safe and stable housing is a basic need, and it can be difficult or impossible to care for your mental health if that need is not met.
- Health Home and Environments: Optimizing your space to improve your mental health is something that anyone can benefit from. For those living with mental health conditions, it is one tool of many that can be used to improve and support your mental well-being.
- Neighborhoods and Towns: Did you know that your ZIP code plays a role in your health? It might surprise you to learn that up to 60% of your health is determined by where you live. Your neighborhood, along with your town and larger geographical region, impacts your sense of community and belonging and determines how easily you can access the things and services you need, including those needed for your mental health.
- Outdoors and Nature: Spending time in nature is linked to many positive mental health outcomes – improved focus, lower stress, better mood, and reduced risk of developing a mental health condition. Most studies on nature and well-being look at green spaces like parks and forests, but researchers are also beginning to look at blue spaces – places with ocean and river views. However, you don’t need a picture-perfect outdoor experience to get the benefits of nature.
REFERENCES AND LINKS FOR YOU
Please explore these links to learn more about steps you can take to improve your mental health as well as how to support the people close to you who might be experiencing challenges with their mental health.
Written by Charlie Johnson, LCSW