Mental illness is a common problem in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 43 million American adults suffer from mental illness. That accounts for 1 in 5 Americans 18 years and older. About 20 percent of children and teens also suffer from mental illness, according to the CDC.

Even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental illness, it’s likely you still will face mental health challenges in your life. Everyday situations can cause stress, anxiety, or other emotional impacts.

There are ways you can manage whatever mental health challenges come your way. Mental Health America’s Tools 2 Thrive provide a guideline for how you can ease mental health burdens.

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Why It’s Important to Manage Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought mental health to the forefront. The pandemic has caused a disruption in many people’s lives. Challenges like lost jobs or decreased pay, the possibility of illness, and the loss of socializing all can cause emotional impacts.

“Mental health-related issues and concerns have affected everybody worldwide in the context of the crisis,” says Jennifer Beckjord, PsyD, senior director of clinical services at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. “I don’t know if one person has gone through this without feeling some anxiety or loneliness or experiencing some mental health-related challenge.”

Mental Health America created its toolkit to provide some simple steps for people to manage their mental health. People can follow some of these steps to try to relieve what they’re feeling at any time.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to take a crisis to benefit from resilience-related resources or coping skills,” Dr. Beckjord says.

How Can I Improve My Mental Health?

The Mental Health America toolkit includes six ways you can manage mental health challenges that come your way.

  • Own your feelings: Are you angry, sad, stressed, anxious, irritable, or something else? Don’t ignore the emotions that you’re feeling. The first step to overcoming negative thoughts or feelings is to recognize and identify them, then take action. You can cope by writing out your thoughts, talking to someone you trust, or seeking professional help.
  • Find the positive: Experiencing a loss is common, whether it’s a loved one, a job, or a relationship. In difficult times, it can help to focus on the positives to recover from the emotional impact of your loss.
  • Eliminate toxic influences: Many different sources can cause problems — drugs and alcohol, social media, and even people in our lives. Identifying the influences that are causing us pain and then working to eliminate or manage them can ease our mental burden.
  • Create a routine: A healthy body and a healthy mind can go hand in hand. Try to control what you can by creating a routine of diet, exercise, social interaction, and more.
  • Support others: Everyone faces mental challenges at some point, and other people may need help getting through theirs. Try to be there for the people in your life who may need some help. Listen to them and try to help.
  • Connect with others: Loneliness can be a heavy burden, but there are ways you can prevent it. Connecting with others, whether it’s in person or through technology, can help provide a lift.

One or more of these steps can help you manage your own mental challenges. But if you still are having a difficult time, seeking professional help is another option.

For more information, call UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital at 412-624-2100.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Learn About Mental Health, Fast Facts. Link

Mental Health America, May Is Mental Health Month 2020: Tools 2 Thrive. Link

About UPMC Western Behavioral Health

UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is the hub of UPMC Behavioral Health, a network of community-based programs providing specialized mental health and addiction care for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Our mission is to provide comprehensive, compassionate care to people of all ages with mental health conditions. UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in mental health clinical care, research, and education. It is one of the nation’s foremost university-based psychiatric care facilities through its integration with the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. We are here to help at every stage of your care and recovery.