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May is National Mental Health Awareness month! Mental Health America has named this year’s theme, “Where to Start: Mental Health in a Changing World.” There are many things happening around us that can impact our mental well-being. Mental health is now being spoken of more in society; however, knowing where to begin the conversation regarding your own mental well-being can still be challenging. The goal of this theme is to realize that there is hope in a world of uncertainty.

 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration describes mental health as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being that can affect how we think, feel, and act. We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. It is essential to understand the difference between mental health and mental health conditions. Mental health conditions are illnesses or disorders that can range from mild to severe (schizophrenia, major depression, etc.). There are various factors that can contribute to mental health conditions including biology, life experiences, and family history. According to Mental Health America, about 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health condition, with symptoms starting at the age of 14 for most people.

 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 1 in 5 youth between the ages of 13-18 either currently or at some points of their life have been diagnosed with a mental illness. There is evidence that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are related to poor mental health later in life. ACEs are traumatic events that occur in a child’s life including experiencing or witnessing violence in their home or community. They can have lasting, negative effects on childhood well-being and life opportunities. ACEs can be prevented using different strategies such as ensuring a positive support system for children, teaching coping skills, and connecting youth to caring adults and activities. Watch this video to learn more about ACEs and how you can help the youth around you.

You can bring awareness to mental health by promoting mental health education in schools and workplaces, organizing mental health awareness events and activities in the community, share personal stories about lived experiences to provide hope and reduce stigma, and encourage open communication about mental health with your friends and family. Mental Health America has created a toolkit with great resources for promoting mental health in your home and community. These include:

  • Shareable social media images

  • Mental health fact sheets

  • Coping tools

  • Outreach ideas

May is also Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. Maternal mental health disorders can have long-term impacts that can affect the well-being of the person who gave birth and their family as well. Signs of a maternal mental health challenge can include feelings of sadness and hopelessness, loss of interest in activities that typically bring joy, or thoughts of harm to self and others, including the baby. Studies have shown that a mother who is dealing with depression is less likely to develop a relationship with their infant. Maternal depression can lead to adverse effects on the parent-child relationship and child development. As the infant grows up, they can begin to feel isolated and lonely. The CDC states that the mental health of children is connected to their parent’s mental health. Mothers who are having mental health challenges may find it more difficult to provide care for their child. There are many factors associated with mothers feeling stressed and overwhelmed including a lack of financial resources, living in unsafe environments, and an overall lack of support. Always remember to take time for yourself and develop a support network.

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Mental health includes mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being.

According to the CDC, anxiety problems, behavior problems, ADHD and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. Many family, community, and healthcare factors are related to children’s mental health. Community awareness about mental illness is important to reduce stigma.

Our goal is to increase mental health wellness by increasing the capacity of First Aiders to identify and appropriately respond to youth (ages 12-18) who may be experiencing mental health challenges and/or emotional disturbances. 

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Youth Mental Health First Aid 

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Identify. Understand. Respond.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people.

The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.

New Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Number
Beginning 7/16, 988 will be the new three-digit dialing code connecting people to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where compassionate, accessible care and support are available for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress. For more information, visit https://988ga.org/ or SAMHSA.gov  download quick fact sheets in English or Spanish. To help promote 988, access the partner toolkit here. 

Raising Resilience Community Toolkit | Strong4Life

Use these talking points when discussing the Raising Resilience campaign with key stakeholders and members of the media. About Strong4Life. Backed by clinical, safety and behavioral health experts here at Children’s, Strong4Life is on a mission to help parents and caregivers raise healthy, safe, resilient kids.

 

Click on the following link 

https://www.strong4life.com/en/emotional-wellness/raising-resilience/raising-resilience-community-toolkit

To help youth cope with the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, with support from the CDC, developed a series of tools for children, teens, and parents that teach healthy ways to deal with stressful situations. Watch to learn more.
Access the tool at https://www.nap.edu/wellbeing-tools

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Georgia State University

Questions please email mhfa@gsu.edu

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