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May 1st, 2023, 9:00 AM
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It's estimated that one in five American adults live with some form of mental illness. Mental health affects all aspects of our lives, from our ability to focus and make decisions to our ability to maintain our relationships. Those who suffer from mental illnesses may find it more difficult to keep up with their daily responsibilities, including their jobs. 

It's bad enough when mental illness cuts into work efficiency and workplace relationships. However, those working in hands-on or dangerous fields, such as manufacturing, utility, or construction, may find themselves in much greater danger. In those fields, an inability to focus stemming from mental illness can be harmful to the worker and those around them. 

Those suffering from mental illness don't need to suffer in silence, however. May 1st marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month 2023, with May 18th marking Mental Health Action Day. These events are part of an ongoing movement to not only acknowledge mental health, but destigmatize it. 

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month dates back to 1949, when Mental Health America (known as the National Association of Mental Health at the time) sought to raise awareness for mental illness. Every year since, May has been a month for recognizing and destigmatizing the struggles many go through on a daily basis. 

Mental Health Awareness Month, as the name implies, is a time for raising awareness. Making social media posts and sharing resources as two common ways to do so. These can be as simple as a post acknowledging the day, to creating a list of local hotlines and charities in your area. Even if you don't create them yourself, sharing these posts and resources on your personal accounts can help spread awareness even further. 

Mental Health Action Day

Thursday, May 18th, 2023 marks Mental Health Action Day. Mental Health Action Day is a much more recent addition to the war against mental illness, with the first instance celebrated in May 2021. 

You may wonder why Mental Health Action Day exists when the month of May is already dedicated to mental health awareness. Although awareness is important, Mental Health Action Day specifically encourages us to take action — for ourselves, our loved ones, or anyone we're capable of reaching. This includes practicing mental health awareness and taking steps to improve failing mental health. 

Practicing mental health awareness

Practicing personal awareness is a good way to monitor one's mental health. While these tips can help someone struggling with mental illness, their primary focus is to help you monitor your mental health and prevent struggles before they happen. Some methods include: 

Mental check-in

One of the quickest ways to practice mental health awareness is to perform a quick personal assessment. How are you feeling? If you're angry, sad, or anxious, do you know why? Are you able to concentrate on things, or do you find your thoughts drifting to places you'd rather they not?

Check when you last ate/slept

Between daily responsibilities and whatever mental health issues you may be struggling with, it's often easy to neglect our body's needs. If you find yourself feeling poorly, but aren't sure why, check and see when the last time you ate was. If food isn't the issue, think about when you last slept.

Be empathetic

This can apply to yourself and to others. It's good to remember that no one is perfect, and that everyone goes through struggles you may not be aware of. At the same time, knowing your own struggles doesn't mean you should be cruel to yourself—if you make a mistake, focus on how you can prevent it from happening in the future instead of obsessing over it. 

Taking action on mental health

Being aware of your mental health is only the first step. Once you've identified potential issues, the next step is taking action to combat them:

Exercise

If you're having a bad day, chances are exercise is one of the last things you want to do. However, even small amounts of exercise can help improve your mood. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or dance to a favorite song. An exercise incentive program can be a great addition to a mental health and wellness program and help motivate employees. 

Stay hydrated

You'd be surprised how much better a simple glass of water can make you feel. Make sure you're staying hydrated, especially if you've been sweating, crying, or otherwise doing something that could dehydrate you.

Eat regular, balanced meals

While it's better to eat something small than nothing at all, it's best to sit down to a well-balanced meal when you're able. Offer a healthy food initiative, such as handing out fresh fruits and vegetables at meal time to help those who want to improve their diet, but aren't sure where to start. 

Stay rested

Getting enough sleep is another important part of maintaining your mental health. While work, insomnia, and other issues may prevent you from getting eight hours every night, it's still good to try and stick to a proper sleep schedule. If you can't get the full amount, take what you can get—even a nap is better than nothing. 

Schedule time for relaxation techniques

Meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques are a good way to destress. Take a few minutes out of your day to do some guided meditation, stretch, or even sit and breathe without interruption. 

Reach out to loved ones

If you feel as though you're beginning to spiral, it can be beneficial to reach out to friends or family. Even if they can't solve the underlying issue, just having someone listen can help. Remember, there's no shame in asking for support—those who care will be happy to offer it. 

Counseling

At the end of the day, there's only so much you can do on your own. When relaxation techniques and exercise aren't enough, there's always the option of professional counseling. Mobile Medical Corp. offers both counseling services and peer support groups, with highly qualified specialty clinicians

Healthy minds, healthy workplaces

No one should struggle with their work because of mental illness. Mental Health Awareness Month and Mental Health Action Day are great ways to raise awareness, but awareness isn't always enough. It is only through action that we can truly make a difference. If you want your employees to have access to reliable medical care for both physical and mental illnesses, look no further than Mobile Medical Corp.  

Mobile Medical Corp. is committed to providing industry-best, on-site medical services to the workforce. This includes services dedicated to employee mental health, from providing Mental Health First Aid training to on-site counseling and peer support groups. We also provide initiatives and resources to making healthier life choices, which can further improve mental health. If you want your employees to be healthy in body and mind, don't delay. Contact us about our on-site medical services today. 

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