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Take better care of your mental health

Mental health awareness month take better care of your mental health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 American adults experience mental illness every year, 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, and 1 in 6 youths aged between 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder. 1

So mental illness is common. But taking care of your mental health doesn’t just mean managing mental illness. Every single person needs to take care of their mind as well as their body. 

Knowing you need to take care of your mental health is one thing, but taking active steps to do so can be hard. For many, mental health is still a taboo topic. Silence and shame can worsen distress and lead to poorer outcomes. 

That’s why campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Month, which runs for all of May 2024, are crucial to opening up the discussion. The more openly we can talk about mental health, the more we can reduce unnecessary stigma and enable people to seek the care they need.

If you’re struggling, seek help now

Everyone goes through hard periods in their life. When difficult times occur, it’s important to seek support from your communities and as well as trained professionals. 

If you have suicidal thoughts, feel like you are in crisis, or simply don’t know where to turn, contact your healthcare provider or call the US national mental health hotline on 866-903-3787. If in doubt, call 911.

Symptoms that may indicate mental health issues

If you experience severe or distressing symptoms that last 2 weeks or longer, reach out to your healthcare provider.  

Symptoms you should keep an eye on include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Unexpected appetite or weight change
  • Difficulty getting out of bed
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy
  • Inability to complete usual tasks or responsibilities
  • Prolonged feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness 2

Talking helps

The public conversation around mental health has improved a lot in recent years. However, talking openly about mental health struggles can still be very difficult. 

Culture, gender expectations, religious beliefs, and socio-economic factors may heavily influence a person’s experience of mental health. 

For example, in most cultures, males are less likely to talk openly about their feelings and are also far more likely to die by suicide than females. In the US alone, males are 4 times more likely to die by suicide than females. 3

Mental health problems can develop gradually and may not be clear to others. Many people live with invisible mental health issues every day. 

So open up the conversation and check in on your loved ones regularly. Simply having the opportunity to talk may make all the difference. 

Mental health needs daily care

Many people benefit from different psychological therapies like psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. As well as professional help, there are many active steps you can take to look after your mental health. 

Again: if you feel in crisis or have prolonged symptoms of poor mental health, seek help immediately. 

In our everyday lives, we can take steps to reduce stress, lower our risk of mental and physical illness, and increase energy. 

Here are some self-care methods that can support better mental health4

  • Get regular exercise. You don’t have to be a gym bunny to get regular exercise into your day. Any kind of movement adds up. If you don’t feel up to a 30-minute walk, try to walk for 5 minutes and see how it goes.
  • Drink water. Hydration levels affect every process in the human body, including how we feel mentally and emotionally. So make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. 
  • Watch caffeine and alcohol intake. Keep an eye on how caffeine and alcohol affect your mood and physical experience. Adjust accordingly. 
  • Eat regular, healthy meals. A balanced, nutritious diet can help keep your body and mind in good shape. 
  • Get plenty of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can have many negative knock-on effects. Try to stick to a schedule, reduce blue light, and avoid food and stimulants close to bedtime. 
  • Try relaxing activities. Relaxation looks different for everyone, so explore what really helps you wind down. Try meditation, crafting, listening to music, spending time in nature, or whatever helps you feel more at peace. 
  • Don’t take on too much. Setting goals and priorities can help you focus on what you really need to get done and give you a sense of achievement at the end of the day. Learn to say no. 
  • Practice gratitude. Take a little time every day to think about what you’re grateful for. It could be something as simple as a cool breeze or a cup of tea. Make a list and come back to it when you’re feeling under stress. 
  • Stay connected to people. Maintain regular contact with family, friends, or anyone who helps you feel like yourself and can offer emotional support or practical help.

How technology can support mental health

If you can build up a strong self-care practice, develop resilience, nourish a mutually-supportive community, and seek professional help when required, you will have all the building blocks you need to take good care of your mental health. 

However, it’s unfortunately true that mental health services are often under pressure and, therefore, can be hard to access. As public mental health data may only reflect the tip of the iceberg, it is quite likely that there are many hidden illnesses.

While technology can never replace in-person care, it can help bridge barriers to access and provide non-judgemental support in cases where mental health services are slow or unavailable. 

With Ada, you can check your symptoms to get an indication of whether or not you might have a physical or mental health issue. You can then bring this data to your healthcare provider who may be able to refer you to a professional. 

Other digital tools can help people access reliable information, insight, self-care tools, and remote therapy. Artificial intelligence (AI) opens up new possibilities in wearable technologies, and self-monitoring and could help close the data gap and speed up time to diagnosis.  

AI could potentially also support personalized therapies, help people stick with treatment programs, and predict patient outcomes more accurately. 

While technological developments are exciting, there is no substitute for growing awareness about mental health and building communities where people feel mutually supported. So reach out to someone today. It could help you both. 

Take care of yourself,

Ada


  1. NAMI (2023) Mental Health by the Numbers. Accessed on May 3, 2024.

  2. NIMH (2024) Caring for Your Mental Health. Accessed on May 3, 2024.

  3. CDC (2023) Suicide Data and Statistics Accessed on May 3, 2024.

  4. NIMH (2024) Caring for Your Mental Health. Accessed on May 3, 2024.

Writer:

Ada

Ada is a global health company founded by doctors, scientists, and industry pioneers to create new possibilities for personal health.

Medical reviewer:

Ada

Ada is a global health company founded by doctors, scientists, and industry pioneers to create new possibilities for personal health.