The conversation around mental health has grown substantially in recent years. More and more, we are beginning to understand just how big an impact mental health has on our lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around one in five people in the United States (20%) will experience some form of mental illness in a given year. Depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are among the most diagnosis.
Mental Health and Suicide
Contrary to what many people believe, mental health issues are by no means the only cause of suicide, and the vast majority of people with mental illness do not die by suicide. In reality, the risk factors for suicide are many and varied, and suicide is rarely linked to a cause.
However, mental health concerns has been identified as one of the most common risk factors for suicide. Data from the CDC shows that 46% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition, and it is likely that many more were living with an undiagnosed condition. Overall, experts agree that destigmatizing mental health concerns and making mental health treatment more accessible are key components of suicide prevention strategies.
On an individual level, cultivating an awareness of your own mental health and developing positive coping strategies can go a long way toward building resilience and improving (or maintaining) your overall well-being.
Strategies To Boost Your Mental Health
Nowadays, there are innumerable articles, videos, podcasts, and other forms of media about how to improve your mental health and practice self-care. Unfortunately, the problem with many of these is that they aren’t always accessible or realistic, particularly for people with busy lives or limited financial resources.
But taking care of your mental health does not have to mean taking a vacation or spending extravagant sums on self-care spa days (although there is nothing wrong with either of those!). Here, we have outlined a selection of research-backed practices and habits that can fit into even the busiest of schedules.
- Move your body—any amount. In today’s all-or-nothing culture, it is easy to convince ourselves that if we cannot commit to a full workout, it is not worth trying. But actually, this is not true. Even a few minutes of exercise are better than nothing. If sticking to a time-consuming workout regimen isn’t in the cards for you, settle for taking a short walk during your lunch break or trying out free YouTube workout videos when the kids are sleeping.
- Go to therapy. Talk therapy can be remarkably effective for addressing any mental health concerns you may be experiencing or developing a set of coping skills to help with future problems. It is true that therapy can be cost prohibitive if you do not have health insurance; however, low-cost options are available if you are willing to put in the work to find them. These include:
- University or School counselors (if you are a student)
- Community-Based Clinics (check with your local social services department for recommendations)
- Nonprofit or charitable clinics
- Marie Kondo your mental health. Sometimes, improving your mental health is not about adding something so much as taking something away. Take stock of your life and identify the things that are not serving you anymore, such as the amount you are drinking, a stressful relationship, or a bad spending habit. Ask yourself what is serving and fulfilling your life. Identify areas you would like to address.
- Cultivate a community. A good support system is like a life jacket for your mental health—indispensable. Consider looking for new social connections or reinvesting in your current relationships.
- Find ways to cope with stress. A big part of mental health is finding ways to cope with stress in the moment. Fortunately, there are virtually innumerable ways to manage stress, including mindfulness, breathing exercises, journaling, spending time outdoors, and more. Explore different techniques and find a few that work well for you, then make a point of implementing them when you’re feeling tense or anxious.
Understanding the relationship between suicide and mental health is crucial to suicide prevention efforts. The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is dedicated to promoting the understanding and prevention of suicide, as well as providing support, hope, and healing to those who have been affected by it.
AAS promotes the study of suicide as a research discipline, as well as public awareness programs, public education, and training for professionals and volunteers. AAS membership includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have an interest in suicide prevention.
By joining the AAS, the largest and oldest suicide prevention membership organization in the U.S., you will be among the ranks of the world’s leading suicidologists and suicide prevention experts. Ready to join? Individual and Organizational Memberships are available!