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Mental Health Awareness Month Series (part 1)


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In 1949, Mental Health America proposed an annual national observation to spread awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing. The conversations around mental health are becoming more urgent as trends demonstrate that growing numbers of American adolescents and adults struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. This article describes the current state of mental health for young people and adults, and offers eight habits to try daily to improve mental wellbeing.

Mental Health – What the Numbers Say:

Mental health in the United States is in crisis. Increased rates of adolescents and adults are experiencing mental illness without access to care or treatment. In 2021, doctors and public health officials in the U.S. declared a state of emergency around adolescent mental health. The Covid-19 pandemic spiked rates of anxiety, isolation, withdrawal, stress, and sleeplessness for millions of Americans.

The latest surveys of mental health in the United States show:

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness.

1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness.

1 in 6 American youth ages 6 to 17 have a mental health condition, but only half receive treatment.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents aged 10-14.

Here’s the impact of those statistics:

Higher unemployment rate among U.S. adults with mental illness.

In 2021, 33.5% of American adults with mental illness experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder.

Students ages 6-17 who have mental, emotional, or behavioral concerns are three times more likely to repeat a grade.

High school students experiencing significant symptoms of depression are twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers.

Four Daily Habits for Mental Health Hygiene (for Adolescents and Adults)

  1. Prioritize self-check ins

Research shows that people who are self-aware are more likely to successfully navigate stressful situations. It is important to take time to assess how you are feeling: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Regularly identifying and processing the way you feel is key to emotional growth. Daily check in’s can look like “taking your internal temperature” or asking yourself (or an adolescent) to reflect on the highs and lows of the day.

  • Practice self-advocacy

Self-check ins will help expand internal awareness of needs, values, wants, and goals. Communicating those needs is the next-level stage of growth. That can look like setting boundaries, saying no, asking for help, support, or resources to meet your needs. When an individual practices self-advocacy, they increase feelings of self-trust, confidence, and autonomy. Check out our article on navigating self-advocacy with teens for more helpful tips.

  • Cover the fundamentals of self-care

Sleep, hydration, nutrition, and time outdoors are critical components of mental and physical wellbeing. Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. Making time to engage in heart-raising activity for 30 minutes and getting a full night’s sleep is a great place to start. For more self-care tips, read our blog on the importance of spending time outside. 

  • Center gratitude

Practicing gratitude comes with many proven physical and mental benefits, including improved sleep, mood, physical health, and decreased stress and risk of disease. Gratitude helps individuals focus on present positive emotions and experiences, and helps shift perspective away from negative thoughts. Take the time to pause and give thanks for anything that promotes happiness or joy to increase happiness and social connection.

 To learn more about the state of mental health for adolescents and evidence-based ways to improve their mental wellbeing, check out our accredited life coaching trainings for more information.

Change the lives of youth. Starting today.