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Mental Health Awareness Month: Fostering open dialogue, understanding and support

“Everyone faces challenges at some point in their lives, but when those challenges become persistent and overwhelming, it is important to remember that help is available.”
– Devereux Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer, Yolanda Graham, M.D.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults (57.8 million) in the U.S. experience a mental illness each year, and only half receive treatment, and 1 in 6 youth, ages 6 to 17, (7.7 million) experience a mental health disorder each year, and only half receive treatment.

During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is highlighting the importance of talking openly about mental health to combat stigma, foster a culture of empathy and understanding, and encourage those in need to seek support.

“Mental health is an essential part of our overall health and well-being, affecting how we think, feel, act and interact with others, and yet, it is frequently dismissed or minimized,” said Graham. “Unlike physical illnesses, which often have visible symptoms, mental illness can be difficult to detect and diagnose. If you are struggling emotionally, or have concerns about your mental health, do not hesitate to reach out to a family member, friend or healthcare provider. We need to normalize that it is OK to not be OK and recognize that seeking treatment and support is not a sign of weakness, but rather, a sign of great strength.”

Self-care tips

One way to prioritize your mental health is through self-care. The National Institute of Mental Health offers the following self-care tips to help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness and increase your energy.

  • Exercise: Just 30 minutes of exercise per day can boost your mood and improve your health.
  • Eat healthy: Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can increase your energy and focus throughout the day. Pay attention to your caffeine and alcohol intake.
  • Prioritize your sleep: Stick to a schedule and reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.
  • Try a relaxing activity: Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation or breathing exercises.
  • Set goals and priorities: Decide what must get done now and what can wait until later.
  • Practice gratitude: Remind yourself of things you are grateful for – be specific.
  • Focus on positivity: Identify and challenge your negative thoughts.
  • Stay connected: Reach out to family members or friends who can provide emotional support if needed.

Important: If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988, or chat 988lifeline.org to be connected with a trained counselor from the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.) The hotline provides 24/7, free and confidential emotional support.

Devereux’s specialty mental health services

For those facing a mental health challenge, know that you are not alone. Devereux offers evidence-based, trauma-informed care to youth and adults with emotional and behavioral disorders in community and residential treatment settings across the country. Diagnoses served include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Depression
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Disruptive behavior disorders

“Whatever you are going through – your feelings and experiences are valid,” noted Graham. “Do not wait to seek support. Acknowledging your mental health challenges and asking for help is the first step toward healing and hope.”

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s specialty mental health services.


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