As the sweet scent of blooming flowers fills the air and vibrant colors paint the world around us, May brings with it a crucial reminder – it is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a time to shine a compassionate light on an issue that affects millions of lives worldwide. Mental health matters, and dedicating an entire month to its awareness is a powerful step towards fostering understanding, support, and destigmatization.
I am passionate when it comes to mental health as it has affected my family deeply. My brother died by suicide in 2009 all the while I was going through a separation in my marriage. I began therapy and prayerful meditation during this time and have a great respect for what the power of prayer and talk therapy has done in my own life.
Mental health is an essential aspect of our overall well-being. It encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, influencing how we think, feel, and act in our daily lives. Mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness; it involves nurturing resilience, coping with stress, maintaining healthy relationships, and realizing our full potential. It touches every facet of our existence and deserves our attention and care.
During this month, let us strive to create a world where mental health is prioritized and mental illness is met with empathy and effective support. Here are some ways you can actively participate and promote mental health awareness:
1. Share your story: If you feel comfortable doing so, sharing your personal experiences can help reduce the shame and isolation often associated with mental health challenges. Your story may inspire others to seek help and remind them that they are not alone.
2. Be an active listener: Offer a non-judgmental and compassionate ear to those struggling with their mental health. Sometimes, all it takes is lending an empathetic ear to make a significant difference in someone’s life.
3.Prioritize self-care: Take care of your mental well-being by practicing self-care techniques that work for you. Engage in activities that bring you joy, reduce stress, and help you maintain balance in your life.
4. Check in on loved ones: Reach out to friends, family members, and colleagues who may be going through a challenging time. A simple gesture of kindness can mean the world to someone who feels alone or overwhelmed.
I am not a therapist but I am a 31 year practicing dental hygienist who has advocated for my patients to seek help when needed. Being willing to get to know people for more than just their smiles is a very important role as a dental hygienist. Many studies are finding that poor gum health is associated with a rise in mental health conditions. Many patients struggling with mental health issues often do not take great care of their bodies and neglect their teeth which leads to periodontal disease. As one loses their teeth they don’t eat well and further isolate even more. It’s a viscous cycle. For patients who have sought treatment, antidepressants cause dry mouth affecting the health of the mouth.. It is well documented that pregnant women with periodontal disease have a higher risk of low-birth weight babies than women who smoke! I hope you see that mental health is truly a disease that affects the whole body.
Mental health is a universal concern that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. By fostering an inclusive and compassionate society, we can create a world where mental health is treated with the same importance as physical health.
Together, we can make a difference, one conversation, one act of kindness, and one step at a time. Let us embrace May as a month dedicated to mental health awareness and commit ourselves to building a healthier, more understanding world for everyone.
God bless, Heather
Updated on July 2, 2023