May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which brings awareness to mental health issues that we all face. During this month, it is important to take stock of our mental health as well as study up on how to combat the everyday stresses.
Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It can affect how we think feel, and act. Mental health is important at every stage of life from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.
I recently completed my annual physical with my Primary Care provider and was reminded of the significance of assessing emotional and mental health as an important aspect of my overall self-care. I have a chronic medical condition that is managed well, but I sometimes forget the connection between my physical health and my emotional and mental well-being. The National Institute of Mental Health reminds us that people with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of experiencing a mental health condition. Having a mental health condition can also put you at higher risk for experiencing other medical conditions. We are finding that treating the mental health condition and chronic illness together can actually help better manage both conditions.
Recognizing the connection between the two in our overall well-being has changed the way we approach them. There is now a greater focus on collaborative health care models that integrate mental health and physical health as part of our overall health care and well-being. Some Primary Care practices are integrating mental health care providers into their provider teams, to allow patients to address mental health conditions within the Primary Care setting they are familiar with. So, don’t be surprised if your Primary Care provider is asking about depression, anxiety and stress or other mental health conditions in your life. Be open and honest and if the topic isn’t raised, bring it up yourself. It’s vital that we care for the whole person, our mental health is important to our overall well-being.