Seventy years ago, Mental Health America began observing May as national Mental Health Month. This year’s theme, #4Mind4Body, highlights the importance of work-life balance, pets, and spirituality in achieving balanced mental health.

“When you or someone you love is dealing with a mental health concern, sometimes it’s a lot to handle,” says Serina Neumann, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and EVMS Wellness Officer. “It’s important to remember that mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable.”

Mental Health America aims to help raise awareness about mental health issues and the importance of good mental health for everyone. Mental Health Month materials are provided in MHA’s tool kit.

A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It can also help people recover from these conditions.

For those dealing with a chronic health condition and the people who care for them, it can be especially important to focus on mental health. That is why in 2019, MHA is expanding upon last year’s theme of 4Mind4Body and taking it to the next level, exploring the topics of animal companionship, spirituality and religion, humor, work-life balance and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness.

During May, MHA also is looking at how these topics may be especially beneficial to people who are living with chronic physical illnesses. At MHA’s 2019 Annual Conference – Dueling Diagnoses: Mental Health and Chronic Conditions in Children and Adults, June 13-15 in Washington, DC, MHA will discuss the impact and intersection of chronic conditions and mental health.

“It is vital to examine overall health, both physically and mentally, to achieve wellness,” Dr. Neumann says. “Going for a walk with a friend, playing with a pet, taking a moment to breathe and reflect on something that you are grateful for or the meaning in your work, once a week can go a long way in making you both physically and mentally healthy — it’s all about finding the right balance to benefit both the mind and body.”

MHA has developed a series of fact sheets to help people understand how their lifestyle affects their health.

“It is not always easy to live an intentionally healthy way, but making small changes can add up to have a big impact on your mind, body, and relationships,” the organization says. 

 For more information on May is Mental Health Month, visit MHA’s website.