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Mental Health - It's Time to Start Talking About It

Mental health illnesses encompass a wide range of conditions and disorders that affect our mood, thinking, and behavior. Examples include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many more. To mark the kick-off of mental health awareness month, this week will feature an overview of certain conditions, with tips on how to help us live better and healthier lives.

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses in America; over 21 percent of adults (42.5 million) are affected by these debilitating illnesses each year. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and pay attention. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety.

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood and energy. Everyone has highs and lows, but it is the severity of the shifts that are seen in a bipolar disorder, and these swings can have a serious impact on an individual’s life. Over three million American adults suffer from bipolar disorder in a given year, and over four million people experience bipolar disorder in their lifetime.

Depression is the most common mental illness and a serious one that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Depression affects over six million American adults each year. Depression can occur to anyone regardless of age, race, or ethnic group.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event. It could be a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault occurring in childhood or as an adult. PTSD is a real problem and can happen at any age; it affects over fourteen million American adults in a given year.

Psychosis is a general term to describe a set of symptoms of mental illnesses that result in strange or bizarre thinking, perceptions, behaviors, and emotions. Psychosis is a brain-based condition that is made better or worse by environmental factors such as drug use and stress.

Staying mentally healthy is important to your mind and body – here are a few tips to help:
  1. Connect with others
  2. Stay positive
  3. Get physically active
  4. Help others
  5. Get enough sleep/eat well
  6. Create joy and satisfaction
  7. Lean on friends and family during hard times
  8. Get professional help if needed
Mental health is one of your greatest assets. It will help you overcome tough obstacles, focus more at work, helps you interact with others better, and keeps you well.
Follow what’s new the next three weeks as we will dive more in depth on some of these issues:
  • Week 2: Suicide Prevention
  • Week 3: Opioid Use
  • Week 4: Depression and Anxiety
Midwest Region Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is always the goal.
Check out these resources:
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) and www.nami.org
Managing Your Emotional Health in Times of Crisis (article from the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America)
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