Health & Wellness
Health and Wellness

Raising awareness about mental health

El Paso County Public Health

Mental Health Awareness Month

Raising awareness about mental health

By Brittany Riffle, youth resilience and suicide prevention planner for EPCPH, and Maggie Youkhana, behavioral health planner for EPCPH

Each year, the month of May is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of mental health, including learning about different mental health conditions, how to

access resources, and how having open dialogue can reduce social stigma and increase connections.

Mental Health Awareness Month — first recognized in the U.S. in 1949 — serves as a good reminder to learn more about mental health and do a simple mental health check-in with yourself, your family, friends and community.

In the U.S., one in five adults and one in six youth (ages 6-17) experience a diagnosed

mental condition every year. This number is much higher when considering those who

may be experiencing an undiagnosed mental condition. In El Paso County, one out of

every five people (20%) in our community reported having poor mental health in 2021. Of those seeking services, almost half (42.4%) could not access mental health services because it was difficult to get an appointment.

While there are many helpful resources available, people may not know how to access them or may feel stigma seeking them out. Studies show that social stigmas and other

factors around mental health can serve as a barrier to people being able to get the help they need. It’s important to increase awareness around mental health, but also to

realize that mental health is more than a diagnosable condition. Mental health — as

important as physical health — is part of our whole health and well-being; it is our ability to thrive both mentally and physically.

To help raise awareness, there are numerous community-led events happening in May.

• May 4 is Spring CityServe with COSILoveyou — Volunteering and being connected

   to the community are proven protective factors for mental health.


Ways to challenge yourself to help support Mental Health Awareness Month:

• Save 988 or the Colorado Crisis Hotline (1-844-493-TALK) in your phone.

• Reach out to a friend you haven’t connected with in a while.

• Participate in an activity you’ve been wanting to try.

• Send a card to a friend.

  • Extend an invitation to someone new — whether it’s running errands, taking a walk, or going to an event or gathering — is there someone new you can invite to go with you?

To start, here are some simple tips for better emotional and physical balance:

  • Name it. Naming feelings and talking about them and describing emotions is important for mental wellness.
  • Get a screening. Mental health screenings help with identification of struggles, and   treatment leads to better outcomes.

• Practice self-care. Good sleep, diet and exercise routines are linked to improved

   mental and physical health.

  • Start small. Pick one small thing each week to work on. Add something new and positive, or cut out a bad habit.
  • Don’t give up! It takes several months for a behavior to become a habit, but for some      people it can take longer.

If you are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts and need to talk to someone now, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. at 988.

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