It’s not surprising that mental and physical health go hand-in-hand. Anyone with a chronic illness or disability knows how these conditions can severely affect the general sense of well-being. Having tools on hand to address these effects can be of great benefit to individuals and their families, friends, and their caregivers. 

Serving adults with severe mental illness (SMI) is a key component in the North Coast Community Homes mission. On a related note, raising awareness of mental-health issues is the goal of Mental Health Month, which has been observed each May for the past 70 years. Often referred to as Mental Health Awareness Month, the tradition was started by Mental Health America (MHA) in 1949.

The theme of Mental Health Month 2019 expands on last year’s 4Mind4Body theme. Five new resources include topics on spirituality, animal companionship, humor, work-life balance, and social connections. The aim is to boost both mental health and general wellness.

“When we talk about health, we have to focus on both physical health and mental health,” says Paul Gionfriddo, MHA president and CEO. “It’s important to see the whole person – and make use of the tools and resources that benefit minds and bodies together.”

Often, mental illness is paired with a chronic health condition or disability. When faced with physical challenges, it’s especially important to care for one’s mental health. This year’s Mental Health Month toolkit contains resources on chronic illnesses as they relate to mental health, including diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDs, and chronic pain. 

The five new topics included in the expanded theme this year, can be applied to a variety of physical and mental conditions, for example:

  • Meditation, yoga, or religion can increase a sense of well-being and reduce stress. 
  • Animal companionship can relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and depression, while also increasing happiness and providing emotional support. 
  • Humor can decrease stress hormones, increase endorphins, and lead to a stronger immune system. 
  • A healthy work-life balance can help one feel that they have a purpose in the community and experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. 
  • Social interactions and recreation can improve mood and overall mental health. Strong social supports help individuals cope with chronic medical conditions. People with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses can experience significant quality-of-life improvements by practicing social self-care.

In addition to the topics listed above, the foundation of “home” is critical in order to help those living with mental illness engage with treatment and improve well-being. Safe, stable housing and other services set them up for success, and this is core to what NCCH does to support this important community. 

NCCH is changing lives by providing safe and comfortable homes to individuals with severe mental illness, developmental disabilities, and other disabilities. For more information on Mental Health Month, visit Mental Health America