May is National Mental Health Month, and “A mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste”. This theme also applies to protecting and using our minds for health and happiness throughout our lives.
Following are 8 key mental health issues and conditions that relate to achieving healthy outcomes:
- Mental health, is basic, just like physical and spiritual health. Thus, it needs much more attention than it gets. That’s why we emphasize the importance of protecting, and not wasting, valuable minds.
- When considering mental illness, priority needs to be given to its prevention, early detection and control, just as one gives to physical health.
- Stress prevention, reduction and control are especially important for minority, or multicultural populations because they have a greater likelihood of: (a) unemployment or underemployment, (b) less health awareness and health literacy, and (c) decreased access to “getaway” opportunities for stress prevention and reduction such as vacations, travel, spas, golf and tennis. However, there are other effective and enjoyable stress reducing approaches that cost little or no money, such as walking, other exercises, deep breathing, meditation, and aromatherapy. Information on these and other stress reducing approaches is provided in our website’s Mental Health Channel.
Stress can also lead to unhealthy lifestyles and practices, like smoking, excess alcohol intake, overeating, and participating in, or accepting violent behavior.
4. Depression, which is “More Than a Little Sad”, is a key mood disorder. It occurs at some time in the lives of 1 out of every 4 women, and also occurs in men, teens and children. A special kind of depression is called bipolar disorder, in which affected persons have alternating periods of depression and excitement, or mania. Fortunately, there is effective treatment today for both kinds of depression. Many persons with depression and bipolar depression are very creative or outstanding leaders. A list of many of them can be found in our website’s Mental Health Channel.
5. Alzheimer’s Disease (Alzheimer’s) is not a normal part of aging, and is increasing in minorities. It occurs when fragments of plaques and tangles accumulate around nerve cells, causing them to die. The result is decreased levels of chemicals sending brain messages. The most common symptom of Alzheimer’s is dementia, which involves increasing memory loss over time, and increasing difficulty in thinking and reasoning. In minorities, there’s later diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s because: (a) there’s often denial that there’s a problem, and (b) care is often not sought because of the stigma related to mental illness, especially among minorities.
Ways to Help a Loved One with Alzheimer’s and other Causes of Dementia:
- Be flexible about the way the person talks or what he or she says
- Make connections through familiar songs or hymns
- Plan short frequent visits – whether to the person’s home or an institution
- Create a memory box with pictures of the family and special events
- Create an atmosphere of joy, trust and comfort in the affected person’s environment
- Support the caregiver, including arranging for ‘breaks (time off), because his/her responsibility is very demanding and stressful.
6. Ways to Protect and Prolong Your Brain Health:
- Stay informed and active
- Stay physically and spiritually healthy
- Control your blood pressure if you have hypertension
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Exercise regularly
- Participate in social activities, as social networks are very useful
- Make “Things To Do” lists, because planning tasks in advance exercise the mind
- Play games and do puzzles (Try our Health Power Diabetes crossword puzzle)
- Develop hobbies and stay involved in them. If they get boring, start new ones
- Become a volunteer – to an individual or organization. It’s good for them, and for you.
7. Key Tips to Fight the stigma of mental illness:
- Always use respectful language with affected person
- Emphasize people’s abilities, not their limitations
- Tell a person that if you observe him or her expressing a stigmatize attitude
8. Because mental health is often related to spiritual health, our website’s Spiritual Health Channel is a good resource for information that’s inspiring, and good for the mind and soul.
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!