June 27, 2022

Prioritize mental health: Mental Health Awareness Month a reminder to stay healthy

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — May was Mental Health Awareness Month, a chance to remember to make mental health a priority.

According to Mental Health America, identifying symptoms of poor mental health early is critically important for overall health.

After two years of pandemic living, many people are realizing that stress, isolation and uncertainty have taken a toll on their well-being.

The organization created a toolkit with free resources. Some of those resources include:

• Mental Health in Rural Communities Toolkit — www.ruralhealthinfo.org/toolkits/mental-health: This toolkit compiles evidence-based and promising models and resources to support organizations implementing mental health programs in rural communities across the United States, with a primary focus on adult mental health.

• Rural Suicide Prevention Toolkit — www.ruralhealthinfo.org/toolkits/suicide: This toolkit compiles evidence-based and promising models and resources to support organizations implementing suicide prevention programs in rural communities across the United States.

According to AgriSafe Network, good health, including mental health, is a key factor that contributes to one’s ability to keep farming.

Twenty percent of any population has mental health complications, including farmers and ranchers.

Stigma and privacy concerns associated with mental health issues may mean that many people do not seek out available behavioral health services.

Symptoms of poor mental health include:

• Persistent worry and fear

• Apprehension and uneasiness

• Avoidance of others

• Feeling sad

• Lack of interest or pleasure in activities

• Significant weight change or changes in appetite

• Problems sleeping

• Slow or fidgety body movements

• Low energy

• Difficulty concentrating

• Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

• Substance misuse

• Unexplained changes in physical appearance of behavior

Tips for talking to your healthcare provider:

• Be pro-active; ask about potential signs of stress, anxiety, or depression.

• Speak openly about stressful issues in your work and home life.

• Be familiar with your family medical history related to depression or other contributing behavioral issues.

• List any prescribed and over-the-counter medications you take.

• Be aware of smoking habits and alcohol intake.

• Inquire about a referral to a mental health specialist.

• Know what your insurance coverage may, or may not, be for evaluation of mental health care.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor