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Take a Moment – Mental Health Awareness Month

Melinda Toth, LPCC
Insight Clinical Counseling and Wellness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year’s campaign is “Take a Moment.” The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) promotes mental health year round; however, during this Green Ribbon Recognition Month, they are promoting “Take a Moment.” There can be multiple meanings to this campaign, and powerful meanings at that. Take a moment to discuss mental health with family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers! Take a moment to learn and inquire about mental illness, to promote your own knowledge that will benefit you and others. Taking a moment to read this blog post, to learn about this movement, the significance of this month, gain tools for mental health, and decrease the stigma surrounding it.

Ever see the Green Ribbon around this month? We have multiple meanings to this ribbon; specifically, it is the international symbol for mental health awareness. According to the Mental Health Foundation of UK, we say on average, “‘I’m fine,” or “I’m good,” about 14 times per week and only about 19% of people actually mean it. We say those phrases as a greeting rather than showing others our authentic self, because it would be out of the norm to say how we feel. I challenge you for the rest of this month to say how you feel when someone asks you, “How are you?” It will be uncomfortable the first few times. Notice how others respond to it, watch their faces when you say more than just ‘good.’ I did this as a social experiment at one point, I would get people that did not know how to respond, but also, I would receive empathic responses sometimes, and that made me feel seen and heard. This is how we grow together. If each of us responded authentically, you would increase emotional awareness within the world. Your authenticity can save a person’s life. Try asking people, “How are you,” and if they respond “okay, fine, or good.” Follow up with, “Is that authentic to you in this moment? And/or “Say more about that ‘okay, fine, or good’ what does that mean to you.” Mental health awareness starts with us, we need to foster a safe space and create a new norm within our society. Take a moment to share with someone how you authentically feel. Not sure how to describe your emotions or pinpoint it? Use an emotion wheel/emotion descriptor, you can find one online (look up ‘emotion wheel’) or even from your counselor, carry it with you, screenshot it to save on your phone.

Practice the mindfulness of checking in with yourself “How am I feeling in this moment?” Go ahead, ask yourself right now. “What do I need in this moment to care for me?” I always tell my clients to do multiple check-ins with yourself, using those questions. I also encourage scanning your body from head to toe, pretend a scanner is going over your body that instead of metal detection, it detects stress, tension, and pain. Again, reiterate that self-talk question, “What do I need to care for me, to relieve some of this tension?” Do not use the excuse of, “I do not have time,” because these self-talk questions, and body scans take less than a minute to do. You can implement short coping strategies throughout your day that take up less time than to respond to that text on your phone. One example of a coping strategy is deep breathing — inhale, count to 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4; repeat as needed. After you do that, scan your body again to see how it is feeling. Your body naturally holds on to tension, and not relaxation. It is pertinent to do coping skills multiple times throughout the day.

Mental health awareness starts with you. Get familiar with accessible resources, TAKE A MOMENT, to learn these resources and share them with others. Reminder, you do not have to cope alone, there is support; If you are not already, consider seeking out counseling services. If not now, then when?

Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), text “HelpLine” to 62640 or email us at helpline@nami.org Available Monday Through Friday, 10 A.M. – 10 P.M. ET.

988 National Suicide and Crisis Hotline

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline: (888) 843-4564

The GLBT National Youth Talkline (youth serving youth through age 25): (800) 246-7743

Sources: https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/mental-health-awareness-month/


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