The Empowerment Center of West County Community Services is supported by Mental Health Services of Sonoma County.

Notes from California’s Mental Health Movement, Each Mind Matters:

Every May the nation comes together to raise awareness about mental health. Each Mind Matters encourages everyone to start conversations, listen openly to one another and support a loved one with mental health challenges. We can achieve this by listening, speaking up and reaching out.

Did you know half of us will have a mental health challenge over the course of our lifetime? Yet research shows that many people — particularly young people — wait a long time to get help due to fears of being labeled or stigmatized. The fact is with support and appropriate treatment people with mental health challenges can, and do, get better.

Start a Conversation about Mental Health

An important way to reduce stigma around mental illness is to have open and honest conversations with your loved ones. Research states that it takes young people 6 to 8 years, from the onset of symptoms, to ask for help. By starting a conversation and providing support, your loved ones may be more likely to seek treatment sooner rather than later. Talking about mental health will help reduce the risk of consequences associated with untreated mental illness.

What does it mean to have an open and honest conversation about mental illness? If you are concerned about someone in your life but not sure what to do, try taking these steps:

1.    Find a time to talk privately, and share why you’re concerned. Ask questions that call for more than just a yes/no or one word response and then really listen.

2.    Offer hope and support. Let them know that struggling with mental health is quite common and that people can and do recover.

3.    Share resources. Offer information about where to find help. For example, visit EachMindMatters.org/resources to learn about local and national            organizations providing mental health services.

4.    Follow-up. Ask the person how you can help, and follow their lead about what is helpful.

Starting a conversation might be difficult but it can be the most important one you have. Print out a copy of “Say This Not That” to help you know what to say.If you believe a loved one is at risk of suicide, visit suicideispreventable.org to learn about the warning signs and how you can help.

Recovery is possible. Each Mind Matters has stories from real people who share their personal testimonies of hope and resilience in overcoming a mental health challenge. Visit EachMindMatters.org/stories to watch these powerful videos and consider sharing them with a person who you are concerned about.

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And you can also focus on how you care for your own mental health and wellness.

Here are a few tips to help you with your mental health, which also contributes to improved work performance and higher levels of satisfaction:

·        1. Get moving. Light exercise 3 days a week improves happiness and work productivity.

·        2. Go outside. 20 minutes of sunlight can help your mood, concentration and sleep.

·        3. Get together with friends or family. Studies suggest that social support networks help you deal with stress and may even help you live longer.

·        4. Play games. Keeping your mind active by doing things like playing new games can alleviate depression, especially as we get older.

Taking momentary breaks throughout the day offers many benefits. One study has stated that outdoor activities have been shown to alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, stress, depression, and also improve cognitive functioning and creativity[1].

[1] Wolf, K.L., and K. Flora 2010. Mental Health and Function – A Literature Review. In: Green Cities: Good Health (www.greenhealth.washington.edu). College of the Environment, University of Washington.]