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Wellness is focus for Mental Health Month in May

Posted: Monday, May 20th, 2013

Shawn Nills

May is Mental Health Month, and was started 64 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for everyone.

“Wellness is essential to living a full and productive life,” said Shawn Nills, CEO of Community Counseling Services. “We may have different ideas about what wellness means, but it involves a set of skills and strategies to prevent the onset or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being. It’s about keeping health as well as getting healthy.”

Nills said wellness is more than absence of disease.

“It involves complete general, mental and social well-being. And mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being. The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.”

Nills said everyone is at risk of stress given the demands it brings and the challenges at work and at home.

But there are steps that maintain well-being and help everyone achieve wellness. These involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness, and connections to family, friends and the community.

Nills said these steps should be complemented by taking stock of one’s well-being through regular mental health checkups.

“Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it’s a good idea to take periodic stock of our emotional well-being. One recent study said everyone should get their mental health checked as often as they get a physical, and many doctors routinely screen for mental health, which typically include a series of questions about lifestyle, eating and drinking habits and mental wellness. But a checkup doesn’t necessarily require a special trip to the doctor. There are also online screening tools you can use. While conditions like depression are common — roughly 1 in 5 Americans have a mental health condition — they are extremely treatable.

“Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes ones’ potential to lead a full and productive life,” Nills said. “Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental health and substance abuse conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievements by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.

“It’s why mental health wellness and awareness is so important and why we need to spread the word.”

For more information contact Community Counseling Services in Huron, Madison or Flandreau.

For the complete article see the 05-19-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 05-19-2013 paper.

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