May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By Kimberly Jenkins - [email protected]

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which is truly important this year more than ever.

Since 1949, the month of May has been observed as Mental Health Month in the United States with many national organizations such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Mental Health America, and helping raise awareness about the importance of mental health.

NAMI’s “You are Not Alone” campaign features the lived experience of people affected by mental illness to fight stigma, inspire others and educate the broader public. Now more than ever before, it is important for the mental health community to come together and show the world that no one should ever feel alone. The campaign builds connection and increases awareness with the digital tools that make connection possible during a climate of physical distancing. Even in times of uncertainty, the NAMI community is always here, reminding everyone that you are not alone.

This year, NAMI’s YANA campaign focuses on the power of connection for those affected by mental illness. Collectively, we can make a positive impact on the millions of people who are struggling and feeling particularly alone given the current situation of social isolation and physical distancing. The YANA campaign also features the lived experience of people affected by mental illness to reduce stigma, inspire others and educate the public on available online resources. NAMI is asking the public to share their own experience with mental health conditions by submitting their stories at

The campaign also builds connection and increases awareness through digital tools, such as our social media platforms, online support groups and the NAMI COVID-19 Information and Resource Guide, which is available in both English and Spanish. These resources make connection possible despite the current climate.

NAMI states that more than 40 million people in the U.S. face the day-to-day reality of living with a mental health condition.

“Especially during this time of isolation, uncertainty and tragedy, it is vital that no one feels alone in their mental health journey,” said Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of NAMI. “The COVID-19 crisis not only shines a spotlight on our need for social connectedness, but also our need for real mental health resources. This Mental Health Month, NAMI is raising awareness to change our fragmented mental health system into one that serves everyone, so people can get the care they need.”

During Mental Health Month, and especially in times of uncertainty, the NAMI community is here to help. Together, we can realize our shared vision of a nation where everyone affected by mental illness can get the support and help to live healthier, fulfilling lives — a nation where no one feels alone in their struggle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some important notes about our mental health. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Find ways you and your family can reduce stress.

The CDC states that stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include the following:

Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.

Changes in sleep or eating patterns.

Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

Worsening of chronic health problems.

Worsening of mental health conditions.

Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations

How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

The CDC continues with people who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Children and teens.

People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders.

People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use.

The CDC lists Ways to cope with stress, some of which NAMI states also”:

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

Take care of your body.

Take deep breaths, stretch.

Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.

Avoid alcohol and drugs.

Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

By Kimberly Jenkins

[email protected]

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights

Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights