May is Mental Health Awareness Month, recognized in the United States since 1949 by presidential proclamation.
The purpose of the month is to raise awareness about all types of mental health and illnesses, provide support and resources to the nearly 60 million people (about twice the population of Texas) who live with a mental illness, and reduce stigma.
While mental health is best addressed with a medical professional, who can provide options including different types of therapy, medications, and lifestyle adjustments to support specific needs, in a world where mental illness is increasingly acknowledged there are more resources available than ever before.
Consider these three areas in your life and how re-evaluating them might help you show yourself grace and compassion.
There is a clear connection between financial stability and mental health. According to a 2023 survey from Bankrate, money is the most frequent factor negatively impacting Americans’ mental well-being (52%), above health for oneself (42%) and family and friends (36%), as well as current events (41%), relationships (32%), and work (31%).
“Stress about all things money is real and individuals, families and business owners can make their lives easier if they are willing to work with trusted financial professionals who are fully licensed and serve as a fiduciary (meaning always doing the best for the client),” says David Roth of Fair Planet Advisors. “Serving as a trusted advisor who also is able to incorporate clients' values into their financial lives is what our firm is all about.”
The rate of money negatively impacting people’s mental well-being increased by 10 percent since 2022 and with increasing wealth inequality, inflation, job insecurity, and crises like student and medical debt, it’s no wonder nearly a third of all Americans worry about money daily.
Rachel Infante, a financial advisor at Birchwood Financial Partners, acknowledges that “financial decisions are hard for most.”
“Education is what empowers people to have a more sound financial future. Even if the answers aren’t known, knowing when to include your trusted financial advisor is a huge step.”Rachel Infante
Fortunately, no matter where you’re at in life or where your finances stand, financial aid is always available.
“Financial literacy and planning are vital for preserving mental well-being,” Michelle Wilson of Athens Impact Socially Responsible Investments adds. “By gaining knowledge about personal finances and making informed choices, individuals can alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, and enhance overall happiness.”
The Green Business Network’s Green Pages offer over 100 financial advisors and planners across the country, with specialties from retirement to 401(k)s and investments to wealth management.
Self-care may have gotten a bad rap in the past several years as a cliché full of face masks and baths, but let’s take a step back.
What’s the number one safety rule on an airplane? Put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you.
There’s no helping your loved ones or tackling your to-do list until you’ve taken care of yourself and your well-being, and one step in this process is self-care—and yes, that can look like face masks and baths, but it’s different for everyone.
Maybe it is your own personal spa day where you take the time to give yourself the facial you’ve been putting off or trying natural remedies for things like stress or digestive health.
You could also try listening to the wise words of Elle Woods: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”
One tried and true practice is yoga, which has been around for thousands of years and is proven to provide both physical and mental benefits to practitioners.
Self-care for you could also look like allowing yourself time—time to work on your hobbies, time to pursue your dreams, time simply to be. Work on that painting you’ve been putting off or consider a sustainable travel experience.
- Giving Back
Now that you’ve put on your metaphorical oxygen mask, it’s time to turn to your community.
One study found people who give to charitable causes experience “greater life satisfaction,” research has shown an increase in oxytocin in those who volunteer regularly, and professors from John Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee found lower overall blood and arterial pressure among those who offered social support to others in their network and gave back to charities.
Look for volunteer opportunities in your area or, if you can afford it, pick a charity or two with a mission close to your heart and consider donating on a regular basis.
With the rise in climate anxiety, look for groups doing work for people and planet. Use the American Community Gardening Association’s map to find a community garden in your area, or consider starting your own Climate Victory Garden.
The work is hard and long, but together we can do it. Along with helping you live green, for over 40 years, Green America has been working for safe food, a healthy climate, fair labor, responsible finance, and social justice.
If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away.
Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.
Go to 988lifeline.org for more information or to chat online.