This month is Mental Health Month, and we’re joining the national movement to raise awareness about mental health. Mental health is something we should all care about, whether we show our support by fighting stigma, providing resources, educating the public or advocating for policies that will positively impact people with mental illness and their families.
This year, Mental Health America’s campaign is focused on how surroundings impact mental health, and they are encouraging individuals to look around, look within. Let’s explore what that means.
Take a moment to consider your surroundings. Do you feel safe? Do you have access to healthcare and grocery stores? Does your home support you, both physically and mentally? This Mental Health Month, challenge yourself to look at your world and how different factors can affect your mental health.
Where a person is born, lives, learns, works, plays, and gathers, as well as their economic stability and social connections, are part of what is called “social determinants of health” (SDOH). The more these factors work in your favor means you are more likely to have better mental well-being. However, when it seems like the world is working against you, your mental health can suffer.
While many parts of your environment can be out of your control, there are steps you can take to change your space and protect your well-being.
- Work toward securing safe and stable housing: This can be challenging due to finances, age, and other reasons, but there are a few things you can try, such as reaching out to state/local agencies to secure housing, removing safety hazards in the home, or finding another space (such as a community center or friend’s home) where you can get the comfort you are missing at home.
- Focus on your home: Consider keeping your space tidy, sleep-friendly, and well-ventilated. Surround yourself with items that help you feel calm and positive.
- Create bonds with your neighborhood and community: Get to know the people living around you, join or start neighbors helping-neighbors groups, and support local businesses to challenge gentrification.
- Connect with nature: Hike in a forest, sit in a city park, bring a plant inside, or keep the shades open to absorb natural light.