Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? All month long you can follow hashtags like #mhm17, or #mhaw17 and get tips on ways to stay mentally healthy. You can also watch celebrities as they recount their own mental health experiences in the “My Younger Self” series and even follow Prince William, Duchess Kate and Prince Harry as they fight mental health stigma with their Heads Together campaign.
Did you ALSO know that you don’t have to have a serious mental illness to seek counseling? It’s true! Counselors are here to help you through all aspects of life, from break-ups to loss, new jobs, to moving into a new house, babies to work stress. And just like you are encouraged to get a yearly physical, we’d like to encourage you to get a mental health check up yearly as well.
Of course you may be thinking, “I feel fine! I don’t need a ‘mental health check up!’” and that may be true, but just in case here are a few commonly experienced issues that counselors could help you with:
Have you experienced an increase in moodiness, irritability, sadness, grouchiness, or negativity that is contrary to your typical personality? A counselor can help you determine the cause of this change and help you process it so you can get back to your regular self.
Are you having difficulty falling asleep at night or maintaining sleep? Do you have nightmares or insomnia? Are you sleeping all day and can’t seem to get motivated to get up? Sleep issues can be symptoms of depression or anxiety. Talking to a counselor (and sometimes collaborating with your doctor) about these issues can help you determine the best way to get back to a good night’s sleep.
Does it feel like your concentration level is low? Do you feel easily distracted or have difficulty getting started on a task? Concentration issues are sometimes indicative of ADHD or anxiety. Working with a counselor can help you learn skills to overcoming distractions and stay focused!
Are you avoiding social situations or feel uncomfortable in certain social situations? These could be signs of social anxiety or symptoms of low self esteem. Your counselor can help you work through these fears and learn how to become the social butterfly you always wanted to be.
Do you have little appetite or have you been overeating? Do you eat or drink as a means of comfort? Appetite change can be one of the first indicators that something isn’t quite right. Talking to your therapist about your eating habits can help you confront the real issue that’s at the root of your eating problem.
Calming Down/Stopping Thoughts
Is it difficult to slow down your thoughts? Do you find yourself ruminating on worrisome thoughts? Rapid, ruminating or worrisome thoughts can be severely distracting from daily life. Through practices like mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy, your counselor can help you slow down and challenge these thoughts to diminish their effects on you.
What does your self care routine look like? Do you set aside time for yourself? Are you able to tell others “no” and set healthy boundaries around your own needs? Self care is one of the most commonly discussed topics in therapy. Good self care routines play a large role in maintaining healthy mental health, but sometimes the best ways to care for ourselves aren’t always so obvious. Your therapist can help you discover the best ways to create long lasting and effective self care routines.
Want to know more? Try taking this free mental health screening at Mental Health America today.