May 13 kicks off Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMSHA) National Prevention Week, which is dedication to increase public awareness of mental and/or substance abuse disorders. The observance brings individuals, organizations, coalitions, states, and communities together to raise awareness about the importance of prevention substance abuse and mental disorders. Each day of the week has a different focus.
- May 14 Promotion of Mental Health Wellness
- May 15 Prevention of Underage Drinking and Alcohol Misuse
- May 16 Prevention of Prescription and Opioid Drug Misuse
- May 17 Prevention of Illicit Drug Use and Youth Marijuana
- May 18 Prevention of Suicide
- May 19 Prevention of Youth Tobacco Use
The first topic is Mental Health Wellness, which is how people think, act and cope with life and stressors and challenges that are part of the human experience. The state of one’s mental health can influence the ways in which they look at themselves, their life and others around them. It also strongly influences an individual’s potential for achieving their goals and is an important tool in obtaining and maintaining a feeling of well being.
Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry.
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse.
- Family history of mental health problems.
If you are not sure if you or someone you know if living with mental health problems there are early warning signs to look for. Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little.
- Pulling away from people and usual activities.
- Having low or no energy.
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters.
- Having unexplained aches and pains.
- Feeling helpless or hopeless.
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual.
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared.
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends.
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships.
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head.
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true.
- Thinking or harming yourself or others.
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school.
Individuals with good mental health wellness are better able to function during stressful situations. Good mental health wellness is reflected in several ways:
- Bouncing back from adversity.
- Communicating about your feelings.
- Forming good interpersonal relationships.
- Setting and achieving realistic goals.
- Seeking help in difficult times.
- Enjoying life to the fullest.
SAMSHA practice has proven that integrating mental health, substance use, and primary care services produces the best outcomes and proves the most effective approach to caring for people with multiple health care needs. Wellness strategies are best achieved by a combination of the following:
- Follow a healthy lifestyle.
- Don’t smoke or use addictive substances.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
- Monitor your weight, blood pressure, sleep patterns, and other important health indicators including oral(teeth and gum) health.
- Work with a primary care doctor.
- Communication between people with mental health problems, mental health professionals, and primary care providers is essential.
- See a primary care physician regularly(at least twice a year).
- Ask Questions!
- Know about medications or alternative treatments.
- Review and act on results of check-ups and health screenings.
- Monitor existing and/or new symptoms.
- Speak up about any concerns or doubts.
The Allegany Rehabilitation Association (ARA) offers many local services that can help people improve their mental health wellness. Remember Prevention Works!