Theme announced for Mental Health Month 2009

Theme announced for Mental Health Month 2009

Jessica L Szabo

Silver Pinyon Journal

30 April 2009

WINNEMUCCA — The theme for this year’s Mental Health Month is “Live Your Life Well.”

Mental Health month is sponsored each May by Mental Health America, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving and maintaining the mental health of Americans of every age. According to the official Web site devoted to this year’s mental health theme, “live your life well” seeks to help people “cope better with stress and create more of the life (they) want.”

Stephen Vetzner, Senior Director of Media Relations for Mental Health America, explained that this year’s theme was chosen in response to the current economic climate. “This issue is timely given the economic climate has added to the daily stress that all American families face,” he said.

Mental Health America urges the public to truly see mental health in terms of health, rather than just as the absence of severe mental illness. Just as a person can be presently free of serious physical diseases like diabetes and cancer and still be physically unhealthy due to poor diet and lack of exercise, a person can also be free of disorders like clinical depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder and still experience mental health problems. And just as we could all benefit by cutting back on junk foods and getting more exercise, even a person in excellent mental health could benefit from learning new ways to cope with every day stress or reaching out to friends and family more often.

“Good mental health is more than just the absence of illness,” Vetzner said. “It’s about being able to handle life’s challenges and even flourish. We hope people will use these tools to improve their mental health and their well being.”

Much of this year’s site is devoted to stress, including a list of physical and mental health issues that can be caused by excessive or poorly managed stress. These include headaches, insomnia, overeating, back pain, high blood pressure, irritability, and vulnerability to infection. Mental Health America also lists difficulties in concentration and decision making as possible results of stress, and warns that it can contribute to the development of serious mental disorders such as depression.

The site also details methods of preventing these and other stress related illness through practical techniques, all of which can be personalized or adapted to each individual or family, and offers basic self screening tools for stress, anxiety, and depression.

Anyone who would like to use these screening tools, read Mental Health America’s advice for fighting stress and maintaining mental health, or learn more about Mental Health America may visit “Live Your Life Well” and find links to other Mental Health America publications online at: