As the end of the year approaches, it’s a good time to assess our priorities and understand how we can become healthier individuals. One of the best ways to do so is to consider mental health and how it impacts daily life. While mental health used to be a taboo subject, focusing on mental health has been much more top-of-mind for Americans in recent years, and mental health stigma is on the decline.
In this blog, we’ve outlined frequently asked questions so you can start to understand what exactly mental health is, how to take care of yourself, and how to support those in your community.
Mental health is an umbrella term that encompasses a person’s emotional, social, and psychological well-being and their ability to enjoy everyday life activities. Mental health affects every aspect of our lives–how we handle stress, respond to crises, maintain relationships with our family, friends, and co-workers, navigate work life, and even our physical well-being.
The difference between mental and emotional health is that mental health focuses on the overall functioning of the brain, while emotional health explores how we react through thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
With emotional health, the way we feel impacts how we respond to both positive and negative events in life. If someone’s struggling with emotional health, they may have trouble sleeping, change their eating habits, or perform poorly at work or school.
Mental health can be the driving change behind emotional health. Our mental health can change how we process and comprehend information. If this is unwell, then it can lead to emotional health issues.
A mental health disorder is a diagnosed issue that affects the way that you think and behave. This is a significant disturbance that affects how you respond to everyday challenges, your actions, and how you process information. As of 2019, there were approximately 970 million people around the world living with a mental health disorder.
While there are over 200 mental health disorders, some of the most common types include:
Unfortunately, mental health issues are not uncommon. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 50% of all adults will suffer from a mental illness or disorder at some point throughout their lives and that one in five adults struggle with these psychological health issues in any given year. The CDC also estimates that 1 in 25 Americans live with a very serious mental illness such as major depression or bipolar disorder.
These are staggering numbers and help to paint a picture of just how pervasive these health issues are. At the same time, these numbers can reassure those who are struggling with mental health issues that they’re not alone in their struggles.
Behavioral health vs Mental health
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of mental health for both the individual and for society as a whole. In short, addressing mental health concerns puts individuals on firm footing in all aspects of their lives and, as individuals are the building blocks for a community, helps to form a strong society.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) lays out very clearly how mental illness can impact the individual and the community:
Mental health is critically important due to how many aspects of an individual’s life it can impact. Sound mental health is the foundation for a healthy life.
First observed in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month happens each year in May. The main goal is to raise awareness not only of the prevalence of mental health issues in the world but also to help reduce the stigma that is associated with them.
Many non-profit and non-governmental organizations turn their focus to making sure that anyone who is struggling with mental health issues can get the help that they need when they need it. Be sure to check for hashtags on social media as well to show your support to your friends and family.
Green is the color for mental health awareness, and these ribbons are typically worn during Mental Health Awareness Month in May and for Mental Illness Awareness Week, celebrated during the first week of October every year.
Medicare Part B (the portion of Medicare that governs medical insurance) does cover a variety of mental health services. These include services that fall under doctor’s visits and treatments that are performed outside of a hospital setting.
Per the Medicare website, these services include, but are not limited to:
Medical Part B may also cover partial hospital services and the following outpatient services:
Medicare can be a complex web of payment structures and this certainly applies to mental health services. Engaging a professional case manager is a good idea to learn how an individual’s specific situation is best handled.
The worldwide pandemic experienced in 2020 and 2021 was an unprecedented event for the vast majority of the world. In addition to the actual COVID-19 illness itself, the pandemic brought a host of challenging situations that harmed individual mental health.
Isolation and the disruption of the routine was a major factor that affected nearly everyone in the United States. As the pandemic ravaged its way across the country, state after state instituted mandatory lockdowns forcing people to work from home and shelter in place. Separation from family and friends took its toll on mental stability.
Anxiety and depression in particular took a hold on people during this period. For example, high school girls experiencing persistent feelings of hopelessness and sadness rose by 10% between 2019 and 2021. The pandemic also increased the rates of substance abuse, and the overall drug death rate increased by 50% during that time.
Additionally, the pandemic had significant impacts on the economy and saw job losses and layoffs in record numbers. This placed millions of Americans in financial distress which can be a leading factor in mental health. For households with Americans who lost their jobs, 52.8% of adults experienced depression and anxiety, compared to the 29.6% who experienced the same symptoms but didn’t lose their jobs.
Caring for and cultivating a healthy mental outlook is a life-long process that requires focus and the desire to be an active participant. There is a lot of variety in how severe each individual’s mental health diagnosis is and what is needed, but there are some common steps that can be taken toward achieving positive mental well-being.
Mental health organizations work with health professionals to provide a variety of services to local communities. These non-profit and charitable organizations play a large role in society’s effort to enrich individual lives through:
Mental health services help people live healthier and more fulfilling lives. There are a variety of services that are available to individuals depending on what their specific needs may be.
Mental health services can assist with depression, stress, anxiety, interpersonal relationships, anger management, substance abuse, grief counseling, and much more. Depending on the severity or type of need in these areas, different types of counseling may be engaged.
In mental health services, you’ll typically work with three different types of professionals:
A mental health counselor is a person who discusses symptoms with their clients and assesses what mental health illness may be causing it. Most counselors also complete psychotherapy, which is a series of hour or longer visits to comprehend underlying issues, address what causes stress and anxiety, and create a game plan to learn healthy coping strategies.
While some clinical social workers, psychiatrists, and psychologists may work as mental health counselors, you may also see one of the following professionals for mental health services.
Also called a psychiatric technician or aide, a mental health technician works in a hospital or outpatient facility setting. They closely watch a patient’s condition and monitor their condition. They tend to do daily tasks with patients, such as ensuring that they take their medication, monitoring vital signs, and helping them eat or bathe. These patients may have a mental health disorder or could be recovering from a substance abuse disorder.
A mental health evaluation (or assessment) typically consists of a series of questions asked by your doctor to determine a mental health illness. It’s a comprehensive exam with questions covering your mood, memory, and how you get along with others. Expect a physical exam, and there may be necessary lab tests as well.
Mental health counseling, also called psychotherapy, is a service provided by trained professionals to help people deal with issues that negatively impact their daily lives. These can be related to a wide variety of life areas and stages, such as work, school, behavioral, emotional, marital, and more. Together, the professional and the client develop treatment and coping strategies to address mental health issues. In the United States, around 9% of adults receive counseling or therapy from a mental health professional per year.
A mental health crisis occurs when someone’s behavior may cause them to hurt themselves or someone else. Additionally, they cannot take care of their own needs or participate in society. Mental health crises typically happen when a stressor becomes out of control. This could include something from work, a relationship, the home, alcohol or drug abuse, or living through extremely stressful situations, such as a terrorist attack.
Signs that someone may be experiencing a mental health crisis include:
The mental health hotline is a 24/7 service provided by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to assist people experiencing suicidal thoughts. To get help, just call or text 988. They also offer online chat on their website.
If you’re not in a moment of crisis and just need some mental health help, NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) offers help and support from Monday Through Friday, 10 A.M. – 10 P.M., ET. Call them at 1-800-950-6264. You can also text “HelpLine” to 62640 or email them at [email protected]. They also offer a chat feature on their website to secure help as well.
Find additional helplines for other mental health issues and services at the American Psychological Association’s website.
Cultivating a strong mental health regime can be challenging. The past several decades have seen the emergence of mental case management services as a tool that non-profit and non-governmental agencies use to organize plans for their clients.
Case managers working in the mental health field are tasked with working to better the lives of their clients. Whether it is depression, anxiety, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, or any other of a multitude of diagnoses, case managers guide and coach their clients in navigating not only their personal and professional lives but also the often murky waters of health care and health insurance.
The health care and health insurance landscape is challenging enough for those not battling a mental health crisis. For those who are struggling with mental stability, some of the hurdles of getting the right help are simply insurmountable. Case managers are trained professionals who excel in guiding and organizing the path to wellness.
Mental health case managers’ caseloads find them working on a lot of different problems all at the same time. These case management professionals are trained to work on a variety of tasks and be ready to shuffle priorities as needed.
Some of the common tasks associated with this work include:
Sound mental health is a key component to a healthier life. The good news is that over the years, we’ve seen positive trends in the resources available to help individuals with mental health and a decline in the stigma associated with mental health issues.
Countless non-profit, charitable, and non-governmental organizations exist for the express purpose of prioritizing the mental health of those who are in need. There are professionally trained case managers and mental health case management software platforms designed to develop a plan for success and see it through.
Mental health struggles are certainly intimidating but fortunately, resources for helping people achieve healthy and productive lives have never been more abundant.