Mental Health Awareness

The month of May is recognized nationally as Mental Health Awareness month. During this month organizations promote mental health. Mental health is a state of being well and living a balanced life and thriving in life. Having good mental health is having the ability to navigate the stressors of life in a healthy manner and seek win-win solutions. On the other hand, mental illness is the inability to function optimally in life and leads to significant impairment in relationships, work, and mental and physical health.  Mental illness affects all persons, such as children, teen, adults and seniors.  Mental illness does not discriminate against gender, sex, race or socio-economic status. It is OKAY to not be OKAY! No longer should persons affected by mental illness live in the shadows or hide behind a diagnoses. It is time to break the stigma. 

Types of Mental Illness

The most common type of mental illness is Depression ( However, there are other well-known mental illnesses that affect many people, such as Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, Schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Substance Abuse.  Mental illness significantly impacts your ability to function at work, school, and in social settings. It also affects your ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships.  The treatment options for mental illness varies depending on the type of illness.  However, the most common types of treatment are medication and individual or group therapy/counseling.  Some people with a mental illness may use drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling or overeating as ways to cope with mental illness. These methods only further worsen the mental illness and damage relationships.  

Common signs of Mental Illness

Here are some signs of poor mental health. This list is not exhaustive; however you may want to speak with your doctor or counselor if you have more than 3 and experience them 2 or more times a week.

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little

  • Pulling away from people and usual activities

  • Having low or no energy

  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters

  • Having unexplained aches and pains

  • Feeling helpless or hopeless

  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual

  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared

  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends often

  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships

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What should I do?

If you identified with more than two above, the effects of mental illness on an individual and family can be devastating if left untreated. Some ways to cope include:

  • Talk with a counselor

  • Take medication as prescribed by your physician or psychiatrist

  • Talk to family and friends about how you are feeling

  • Practice mindfulness

  • Pray, meditate, exercise

  • Eat healthy

  • Reduce/Avoid stressful of toxic situations or people

  • Engage in activities that bring you joy

  • Join a support group

  • Journaling

Having a mental illness does not mean you are “crazy”. Remember it is OKAY to not be OKAY and you do not have to do it alone. There is help for you. Together we can fight the stigma and live life in balance. If you or someone you know may be experiencing signs of mental illness, please talk with your doctor or call Southwest Florida Counseling Center at 941-391-1067 to schedule an appointment or visit our website at You can also check us out on FaceBook. Mental illness does not have to ruin your life. You can learn ways to cope and learn to achieve optimal mental health. Let’s Break the Stigma!