By Crystal Bruce, Health Communication Specialist IV
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is a good time to pause and reflect. We’ve all been through a lot over the past few years. And one issue that continues to make headlines is our mental health.
If the pandemic has had a silver lining, it’s the fact that many more people are now aware of the importance of mental health. Unfortunately, this is in part due to the pandemic’s harrowing effect on people’s mental wellbeing. National surveys have shown that more than 28% of adults in the U.S. reported having anxiety in the last year and more than 22% reported symptoms of depression.
The Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, released an advisory in early May to raise the alarm about the epidemic of loneliness and isolation in the U.S. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, about half of U.S. adults reported experiencing measurable levels of loneliness. This affects our mental and physical health.
If you need suicide or mental health-related crisis support, or are worried about someone else, please visit the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org (TTY: 1-800-487-4889) or use the Behavioral Health Treatment Locator to get help.
Veterans Crisis Line
How common are mental illnesses?
Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.
- more than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime
- 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year
- 1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness
- 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
Why is mental health important for overall health?
People consistently rank health as one of the most important things in life. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act, and it impacts our ability to cope with the challenges of daily life. Mental health problems can have a significant impact on our physical health, relationships, and ability to work or study. Often mental health is the proverbial “elephant in the room”—we know that it is there, but it makes us uncomfortable to address it. Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.
Can your mental health change over time?
Yes, it’s important to remember that a person’s mental health can change over time, depending on many factors. When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted. For example, if someone is working long hours, caring for a relative, or experiencing economic hardship, they may experience poor mental health.
How does Karna help promote good mental health?
Karna recognizes the importance of mental health in overall health. We have developed resources for our clients that address well-being in health care settings, including a webinar and fact sheet. During the pandemic, Karna worked with CDC to create messages for various populations around COVID-19 vaccine confidence, easing the stress and uncertainty of the time. For those of us employed at Karna, we have resources available to us that help us stay healthy mentally:
- free courses on stress management, resilience, and wellness through Karna Human Resources
- an Employee Assistance Program that offers a wide-range of services, such as helping with family issues, offering in-person counseling, or assisting with financial planning
- company-wide activities, such as the 3-minute desk workout challenge
Mental Health Awareness Month is an important opportunity to promote mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. It is a time to recognize the impact of mental health on our lives, and to focus on building resilience, taking care of ourselves, and connecting with others. Remember, it is okay to not be okay, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.