Mental Health Awareness

By Ashley Winterstein

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, a time when organizations, physicians, and community members join together to share the importance of maintaining good mental health.

Mental Health America, a national non-profit organization dedicated to this cause, explains that everyone should reflect on their mental health, not only in a time of crisis but also during daily life, because of the huge impact it can have on our general health and well-being.

On their website, www.liveyourlifewell.org, contributors share that, “Mental health is perhaps best explained as how well we cope with daily life and the challenges it brings. When our ‘mental health’ is good, we can deal better with what comes our way — at home, at work, in life. When our ‘mental health’ is poor, it can be difficult to function in our daily lives.”

They also explain that everyone lives with daily threats to their mental health. At some point, most also experience larger challenges that add extra risk to their mental health which could include losing a job or loved one, living with a serious health condition, an addiction to alcohol or drugs, surviving domestic abuse, or experiencing a major natural disaster.

It is also important to consider the mental health of children experiencing stressful situations such as these. Our local management board, Queen Anne’s County Community Partnerships for Children and Families, is a partner of Children’s Mental Health Matters – a group dedicated to raising awareness about children’s mental health.

On their website, www.childrensmentalhealthmatters.org, contributors describe how it can often be difficult to determine in children which behaviors and moods are common for a particular stage of development and which are cause for concern. They offer multiple resources for concerned adults and share a list of children’s behaviors that may need further attention which include: persistent anger or overreactions, extreme fearfulness, severe anxiety, avoidance of friends, changes in sleeping and eating habits, or difficulty sitting still.

There are a multitude of resources available for both children and adults experiencing challenges with the current state of their mental health. Opportunities are also available to adults in the community who are able and willing to offer their time to children who could benefit from extra support.

Please contact Jacki Carter, at 410-758-6677 or jcarter@qac.org, if you are interested in learning more about becoming a character coach to an entire class of students or a mentor to an individual student in Queen Anne’s County. These character building experiences with caring adults could be what motivates students to apply themselves in school, pursue their interests or hobbies outside of school, avoid underage alcohol use, and ultimately strengthen their self-esteem and overall mental health.

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