May is Mental Health Awareness month...According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one-in-five adults experienced mental illness in 2021, and youth adults ages 18-25 had the highest prevalence of any mental illness at 33.7 percent.

No one is immune from mental health concerns. Some individuals may be born with a mental illness or have genetics that are more likely to produce a mental health concern. However, everyone could be exposed to traumatic events, stressors, or loss that could result in a mental health illness.

Mental Health Awareness month brings to light that everyone struggles with their mental health. Regardless of age, race, occupation, gender, or socioeconomic status, we can all be impacted by anxiety or depression or grief or even addiction. Normalizing that individual’s struggle with mental health is important because it becomes less of a stigma and less of a barrier for people to reach out for help. Mental Health Awareness month also provides an opportunity to talk about mental health and creates a sense of community. For many people, conversations about mental health and emotions rarely happen. This lack of communication can perpetuate the problem...

Mental Health Awareness month helps to promote resources available for anyone struggling with a mental health concern....Some helpful tips to help manage mental health concerns and your overall mental wellbeing include regular self-care activities, grounding techniques, and journaling. Self-care is important for everyone’s mental health...Self-care activities can include activities such as taking a relaxing bath, going for a walk, reading a book, or even taking a nap. Self-care activities should be implemented on a regular basis, not just when life gets stressful. Grounding techniques encourage us to stay in the here-and-now instead of focusing on past concerns or stressful events. Grounding activities can include noticing new things about a room you are sitting in, walking bare-foot outside to feel the grass underneath your feet, or bringing awareness to all the senses associated with eating your favorite food...

Journaling can be very beneficial for many health concerns because it allows you to put your feelings and thoughts somewhere be-sides them being stuck in your head. There are a variety of ways to journal. You could simply write your thoughts and feelings down each day, or you could draw, paint, or color. Another method of journaling includes photography. This method encourages an individual to take a picture that rep-resents their feelings, thoughts, or overall outlook of the day.

I would be remiss if I did not provide mental health resources to the reader. The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is 9-8-8 is a free service that is available 24/7 for people who are in distress and need prevention and crisis resources. Individuals can call, text, or chat using the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline is also a free, 24/7 service that provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Along with these services, there are several counseling practices in the area that accept insurance and/or provide a sliding scale payment for counseling services. These counseling practices provide individual, group, family, and couples counseling services. If you are suffering with a mental health concern, please reach out to someone for help and support!

By Hillary Ellerman. Ellerman is a mental health therapist in Auburn. She is also an Assistant professor at CSU, teaching master’s level counseling students. Her passion for mental health awareness and advocacy for mental health care inspires her work in the community.