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May is Mental Health Awareness month

While one in five people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. The good news is there are practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency, and there are ways that everyone can be supportive of friends, family and coworkers who are struggling with life’s challenges or their mental health.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The St. Luke’s Hospital Senior Life Solutions program is highlighting what individuals can do daily to prioritize their mental health, build resiliency in the face of trauma and obstacles, support those who are struggling and work towards a path of recovery.

Paula Hipp, Senior Life Solutions program director said, “We recommend that you include the following in your mental health routine: recognizing and owning your feelings; finding the positive after loss; connecting with others; eliminating toxic influences; creating healthy routines; and supporting others – all as ways to boost the mental health and general wellness of you and your loved ones.”

It’s ok to give yourself permission to feel. We also know that life can throw us curveballs, and at some point in our lives, we will all experience loss. It may be the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, losing a home or the death of a loved one. It is natural to go through a grieving process. By looking for opportunity in adversity or finding ways to remember the good things about who or what we’ve lost, we can help ourselves recover mentally and emotionally.

It’s important to make connections with people who help enrich our lives and get us through tough times. It’s equally important to recognize when certain people and situations in life can trigger us to feel bad or engage in destructive behaviors. Identifying the toxic influences in our lives and taking steps to create a new life without them can improve mental and physical health over time. By creating routines, we can organize our days in such a way that taking care of tasks and ourselves becomes a pattern that makes it easier to get things done instinctively.

For each of us, the method we use to keep us mentally healthy will be unique. Senior Life Solutions wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is possible. Finding what works for you may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. It is possible to find balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, and physical and mental health, and set yourself on the path to recovery.

St. Luke’s Hospital’s Senior Life Solutions is an intensive outpatient counseling program which addresses the emotional and behavioral health of adults typically over the age of 65. Through a combination of therapies, education and wellness programs, Senior Life Solutions assists older adults who are experiencing depression, anxiety, have recently experienced a traumatic event and a host of many other symptoms. Paula Hipp, BSN, RN, can be reached at 828-894-9890 or Paula.Brooks1@slhnc.org.

Submitted by Becky Rickenbaker