Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and every year the goal is to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.
Mental Health Awareness Month was started in the United States in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization (then known as the National Association for Mental Health). Its purpose is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses, such as the 18.1% of Americans who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder; the realities of living with these conditions; and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness. It also aims to draw attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses.
This year’s campaign, #4Mind4Body, is encouraging individuals around the country to focus on the following healthy aspects of their daily lives in order to promote mental wellness:
- Maintain uninterrupted sleep for 8 hours each night.
- Avoid sugars, greasy foods, salts, processed foods, and saturated fats.
- Consume more whole grains, greens, unprocessed foods, lean meats, and unsaturated fats.
- Eat 2-3 well-balanced meals per day.
- Drink at least 3 liters of water per day.
- Consume natural probiotics such as yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kefir, and kimchi.
- Engage in a physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Stay away from toxic thoughts, toxic people, and toxic conversations.
- Engage in positive thoughts and conversations.
- Practice mindfulness or meditation on a daily basis.
- Learn how to manage your stress.
- Stay present in your daily relationships.
- Avoid “screen time” and engage in more “in person time”.
- Visit your doctor for preventative health and cancer screenings.
- Take time for yourself every day.
For the month of May, Mental Health America and NAMI are challenging you to make small positive changes in your life that can benefit your mind and your body. Document these changes and feel free to share on social media. You may be surprised by how much positive impact one small change can have on your life.
Kailey Kocourek, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Kailey Kocourek joined The Kim Foundation in July 2018 as the Project Coordinator. She coordinates the Metro Area LOSS Team and provides mental health awareness and suicide prevention education in the community. Prior to that, she worked for a local nonprofit organization developing programs to improve access to health care for the underserved. Kailey received her Bachelor’s Degree from UNO in Public Health in 2015 and is currently working towards her Master’s in Public Health from UNMC, expecting to graduate in May 2019. She was drawn to the nonprofit world because of her passion for helping and educating others. Kailey is an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Metro Area Suicide Prevention Coalition, and the Nebraska State Health Improvement Plan’s Depression and Suicide Health Priority group.