Mental Health Awareness Month, observed each year in May, represents an ideal opportunity to remind ourselves that mental health is vital to overall health. 

New research shows that 2 in 5 U.S. adults report having a mental health condition, an increase from 1 in 5 before the pandemic. That’s why it is especially important this year to check in on how you are doing emotionally and psychologically, says Serina Neumann, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and EVMS Wellness Officer.

“The uncertainty, stress and isolation of the pandemic have helped us all to be more honest with ourselves and others about how important our mental health is for our functioning,” Dr. Neumann says. “It has also helped us to understand the importance to reach out for support and use tools to take some action.”

One of the first things you can do, Dr. Neumann says, is to “check in” on your mental health status.

Mental Health America offers quick, free and private online mental health screening tools. Nearly five million people have used their screening program.

“You can use the screening information to start a conversation with professionals, family members or friends, which can help reduce the time spent suffering,” says Dr. Neumann, who encourages everyone to complete a screening. 

“Once you understand the ways you are responding to stress and anxiety may not be healthy, you can get the right support and tools you need in place to help you thrive and be more healthy mentally and physically,” she says.

Other resources to consider, according to Dr.  Dr. Neumann:

Mental Health America provides tools and resources to help you “live mentally healthy.” 

 “You Are Not Alone,” a campaign from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, focuses on connecting people to resources or free online support groups.  

Mental Health: Mind Matters is an immersive touring exhibition from the Science Museum of Virginia that raises awareness about mental health.