Laurel Harmon, Legal Assistant
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health problems affect not just those with diagnosed mental illnesses. One in five adults will experience a mental health problem every year and one in twenty-five adults will experience a serious mental illness. When you are going through a difficult time, such as divorce and custody, your mental health can take a toll. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger are common during this time.
Tools That Can Help
When I am feeling anxious or depressed, the first thing I do is to call a loved one and work through my feelings; it always makes me feel better. Getting in touch with a therapist is another tool to combat mental health problems. Speaking with an unbiased person can be immensely beneficial. Therapists provide tips and tricks to ease your depression, anxiety, and other mental issues.
Another tool for mental health is exercise. You don’t need to lift weights in the gym or do two hours of intense cardio. You can do wonders by simply going for a walk. Psychologist Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D. from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, reports on research showing that exercise can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, bad moods, stress, relationship problems, grief, and other negative effects on your mental health. When you exercise, your body increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which helps lead to a better mood. As the fictional Attorney Elle Woods, the lead character in Legally Blonde, says, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!”
North Carolina has many mental health resources available for free. The state offers Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services at this website. The Hope4NC Helpline (855-587-3463) is a free service available 24/7 to anyone living in North Carolina. Their mission is to help connect those experiencing mental health issues with support and resources. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-5543) is also available 24/7 and can help anyone experiencing a mental health crisis.
The stigma that once surrounded mental illness often precluded talking about one’s mental health in general. This left people to keep their issues to themselves for fear of judgment and ridicule. Our society has come a long way in eliminating that stigma, but we still have further to go. National Mental Health Awareness Month aims to bring to light the struggles that people face. The more we can normalize speaking out about mental health issues, the easier it gets for those who are suffering to get help. Remember that you are not alone.