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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Look Around, Look Within: Your surroundings say a lot about your mental health.

Take a moment to consider your surroundings. Do you feel safe? Do you have access to health care and grocery stores? Does your home support you, both physically and mentally?

This Mental Health Awareness 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”. 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. Wherever you call “home,” it should give you feelings of comfort, support, and calmness. If not, there are things you can do to your space to help you be more productive, reach your goals, and improve your mental health.
  • Create bonds with your neighborhood and community: Get to know the people living around you. A strong sense of community within neighborhoods protects mental health through shared support, resources, and joy.
  • 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. Spending time in nature is linked to many positive mental health outcomes, including improved focus, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of developing mental health conditions, and a sense of connection to yourself, community, and purpose.
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