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Wellness Wednesday: What is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental Health Awareness Month
(Image courtesy of Active Minds)
This year, Mental Health Awareness Month coincides with one of the most complex and challenging times in our nation's history. The coronavirus pandemic has caused immense physical pain and hardships, as well as loss for many people. Additionally, it continues to impede on our mental well-being, including stress and anxiety, depression, substance use and misuse, relationship difficulties and suicide.


Here's some information about Mental Health Awareness Month:

  • Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed since 1949.
  • The green ribbon signifies supporting Mental Health Awareness Month.
  • The goal is to provide support and awareness for mental illness by:
    • Combating the stigmas associated with mental illness.
    • Raising awareness for suicide and highlighting prevention strategies.
    • Providing resources and support for everyone's mental well-being.
This is an unprecedented time for all Americans and a time where we all need mental health support and resources. If you or someone you know needs support and resources, please reach out, we are here to help you.

DePaul Resources
National Resources
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Here are some coping strategies from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

1. Acknowledge what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, such as washing your hands, wearing a mask when in public, maintaining 6-feet from others and staying home as much as possible.

2. Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding — you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.

3. Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone. It’s important not to compare yourself to others. It’s okay if you’ve decided what makes you feel safe is to limit attendance of large social events, but make sure you separate when you are isolating based on potential for sickness versus isolating because it’s part of depression. Try to find ways to stay connected virtually to avoid isolation.

4. Get outside in nature — even if you are avoiding crowds. Vitamin D and fresh air can be quite the game changer in helping us clear our minds, re-center and appreciate Mother Earth. It can boost your mood and your well-being. If you take the precautions to maintain distance from others and wear a mask, getting outdoors is recommended and doable. Getting some movement is also a beneficial activity to add to your daily routine and can help break up your days.

5. Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends or family about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s okay to reach out to a mental health professional for support. You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.

We are in this together, and help is always available. If you’re feeling alone and struggling, reach out to University Counseling Services at (773) 325-7779 or the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness at (773) 325-7129. If it is urgent or life-threatening, reach out to Public Safety at (773) 325-7777 or Advocate Illinois Masonic Behavioral Health Services Crisis Line (if you are in Chicago) at (773) 296-3220.

You can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Visit blogs.depaul.edu/hpw for more resources and education on mental health awareness during May. Consider ‘subscribing’ to the blog so you don’t miss any of our blog articles. And don’t forget to join us today to learn more about coping strategies and caring for your mental well-being. Register on DeHUB to join us.

Take Care DePaul.