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Together for Mental Health: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Image of Every May is Mental Health Month. If you know someone in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line: 800-273-8255. (Photo: MHS Communications). Every May is Mental Health Month. If you know someone in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line: 988, Option 1 (Photo: MHS Communications)

Health is wealth, especially when dealing with mental well-being. Growing up, kids are taught if they are hurt physically in any area, to seek help. The same should go for anyone's mental health.

Lt. Nicholas Grant, the embedded clinical psychologist for Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, expressed his thoughts on mental health.

"Mental and physical health are interconnected. Mental health is a core component of overall health, and a holistic perspective is important in order to understand the relationship between these variables and allows individuals to deal with their cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being head on," said Grant.

When left untreated, mental health can have a negative toll on an individual's success, happiness, and safety. Therefore, the negative stigma around mental health must be fought by understanding, providing support, and educating members and families on the importance of asking for help.

Despite how it may seem, Mental Health Awareness Month is a celebration of mental health. The purpose is to raise awareness of struggles people are dealing with and to commemorate their recovery and progress. Mental health is essential for an overall productive and happy life. However, in the military, there is a large stigma against seeking assistance due to the fear of being treated or perceived differently.

"Military specific stigma of mental health has a lot to do with concern of change to one's duty status, including potential determination around fitness and suitability for duty, as well as how this might impact access to resources that comes with being on active duty. Folks may minimize symptoms due to these concerns. We must be thoughtful in the way we communicate around mental health and the importance of help seeking," said Grant.

Due to the stigmas surrounding the topic and the lack of knowledge of resources, only 38 to 45% of people showed interest in receiving help, according to BMC Public Health.

Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic affected patients' physical health, but it has also played a role in their mental health. With the large increase in mental illness associated with the pandemic, society was forced to have those tough conversations about the negative implications of poor mental well-being. As a result, awareness has spread, and support has increased.

Mental health has a direct impact on a person's quality of life. If neglected, other aspects of one's life can deteriorate. To get the most out of life, one must take care of themselves on a deeper level. It would be a disservice to overlook the struggles preventing someone from performing at their full potential. Society's mindset is changing everyday as the outlook on mental illness is becoming more accepted.

"The more we can normalize mental health as a core component of holistic health and well-being, as well as change the way in which we talk about mental health, the more we will see societal change in the way mental health is viewed," emphasized Grant.

Check up on friends and family, and most importantly, give yourself the support you deserve.

For more advice, check out the following resources:

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Confidential Mental Health Resources Available to Military Families

U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Christian Luna Salvador, right, a postal clerk with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, speaks to Tarra Brannon, a social worker with Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa, in a family evacuation drill during Exercise Constant Vigilance 2022 on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, on Oct. 20, 2022. The Military Health System offers many services to service members in a variety of settings in times of stress and anxiety. (credit: U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Thomas Sheng)

“Checking in on your mental health can be as easy as making an appointment with a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist – and that can be done face to face or virtually,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Anna Fedotova, mental health flight commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Last Updated: September 29, 2023
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