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“All the Feels” May is Mental Health Month

“All the Feels” May is Mental Health Month  By Tammy Donoho, Kentucky Youth Advocates

Frustrated, anxious, lonely, self-conscious, how do these words make you feel? Uncomfortable? Most children will experience these emotions no matter how hard we try to shield them. As parents and guardians, we are bound and determined that no harm will ever come to our children. We enlist the help of loved ones and professionals to secure physical health. Parents and guardians use tools such as car seats to provide safety in motor vehicles, bandages to protect scrapes and bruises, and braces to straighten teeth, what are the tools to protect a child’s mental health

The month of May brings attention to Mental Health on a national level and dedicates May 9th to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. How does your family plan to recognize this month? Your family could start the month of May by taking a mental health screen. It’s a quick, free, and private way for people to assess their mental health and recognize signs of mental health problems. If you do need help or just someone to talk to there are many organizations in Kentucky that can assist.

There are numerous community health centers in Kentucky that are taking the necessary COVID-19 precautions and are offering mental health services for children and families, including our partners at Seven Counties Services, formerly known as Centerstone. Watch this video from Seven Counties Services president and CEO for an update. You can find your local community health center here. If searching for Federally Qualified Health Centers, they are accessible in a number of locations and online. A list of low cost, sliding scale Kentucky Mental Health Clinics offers other options. 

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and wellbeing and mental illnesses are common and treatable. Mental health is not the same as mental illness; mental health is defined as a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. With the uncertain time we’re living in, it’s important for all of us to find ways to emotionally support ourselves, children, friends, and family.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness also known as NAMI has online support groups for people living with mental illness and support groups for anyone who wants to learn from others who cope with the mental illness or the mental illness of a loved one. True North is another source for support groups and online counseling.

 Teens in Kentucky can connect to one another on Zoom and Facebook through TAYLRD, an initiative aimed to positively impact the lives of Kentucky’s 16-25 year olds who have or are at risk of developing behavioral health challenges.

When it comes to our youth, how do we differentiate between the behaviors of  “growing pains”  and the symptoms that need attention? You may choose to join the Virtual Forum Let’s Talk Children’s Mental Health! This event is about ending the stigma, bringing awareness and education, bridging the gap, and understanding the importance of the youth voice to mental health. The practice of mindfulness for both children and adults can be beneficial to emotional well-being and could be a pleasant, welcome break from the day’s events. 

The sites below offer strategies for coping during these current stressful times.

CDC Daily Life CopingCDC Talking With Children — US Dept of Health & Human Services (SAMSHA)

In the event of a crisis, you can access SUICIDE HOTLINES or CRISIS CENTERS

Children’s mental health matters! Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and wellbeing. Let the month of May remind us to make time for mental health today and every day!

Photo courtesy of Pexels