During the month of May, the Indian Health Service observes Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and reduce stigma about those living with mental illness. This is also a good time for behavioral health professionals to highlight strategies for attaining optimal mental health and wellness. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Mental health is a key component of the Indian Health Service mission, which includes raising the mental health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that from August 2020 to February 2021, the percentage of adults with symptoms of an anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
The good news is that you can take action and employ positive coping tools to help. The National Institute of Mental Health provides examples of what individuals can do throughout their daily lives to prioritize mental health, self-care, and continue to cope with the obstacles of COVID-19. Find out more about what self-care means and how taking the time to do things that help you live well will improve both your physical health and mental health.
Some tips to take care of your mental health include:
- Prioritize your own self-care
- Find support from others
- Stay connected to your cultural and/or religious beliefs and practices
- Get enough sleep
- Journal your thoughts and feelings
- Engage in fun activities you enjoy
- Seek help from professionals
If you are feeling alone, sometimes it can help to talk through it with someone. For support, you can reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘NATIVE’ to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis counseling. If you are seeking professional behavioral health care, please visit the IHS health care finder to identify an Indian Health Service, tribal or urban Indian health program behavioral health facility or clinic near you.