May is Mental Health Month: Overall wellbeing requires balance

“Pathways to Wellness” — this year’s theme for Mental Health Month of May — calls attention to strategies and approaches that help everyone achieve wellness and good mental and overall health.

Wellness is essential to living a full and productive life. We may have different ideas about what wellness means, but we can agree it involves a set of skills and strategies to prevent the onset, or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being. It’s about keeping healthy as well as getting healthy.

Wellness is more than absence of disease. It involves complete general, mental and social well-being. And mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being. The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.

Everyone is at risk of stress given the demands life brings and the challenges at work and at home.

But there are steps that maintain well-being and help everyone achieve wellness. These involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness, and connections to family, friends and the community.

The Mental Health Consortium of Carver County believes that these steps should be complemented by taking stock of one’s well-being through regular mental health checkups. Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it’s a good idea to take periodic stock of our emotional well-being.

One recent study said everyone should get their mental health checked as often as they get a physical. But a checkup doesn’t necessarily require a special trip to the doctor. There are also online screening tools you can use. While conditions like depression are common — roughly 1 in 5 Americans have a mental health condition — they are extremely treatable.

Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one’s potential to lead a full and productive life.

Strengthening your mental health and preventing mental health and substance use lead to improved general health and a healthier community: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and healthier families.

That’s why we need to spread the word and raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for everyone.

Your pathway to wellness can be as simple as calling a friend, walking instead of driving, playing with a pet or calling someone that can answer questions and direct you to services that you may need. You can, for example, call the Carver-Scott Mental Health Crisis program any time 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (952) 442-7601 and speak confidentially to a mental health professional.

You can also learn more about mental health and how you can help others. The Mental Health Consortium is sponsoring QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Training from 6 to 7 p.m. on Monday, May 19, in the Wilder Room of the Chanhassen Library. This training covers the three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. Register for this free workshop through the Ridgeview Medical Center’s website www.ridgeviewmedical.org/events or register at the event.

 

By Melanie Warm MSW, LICSW, who serves on the Mental Health Consortium of Carver County. She is the supervisor of the Mental Health Crisis Program for Carver County and Scott County.

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