Look Around and Look Within
About Mental Health Month
Since 1949, Mental Health America has observed May as Mental Health Month by reaching out to millions of people to spread the word.
This year, Mental Health America is encouraging the public to “Look Around and Look Within” by considering how the world around them affects their mental health.
TC STRONG is sharing tips and practical resources here (and on our Facebook and Instagram accounts) about how an individual’s environment impacts their mental health, along with suggestions for making changes to improve and maintain mental well-being, and how to seek help for mental health challenges.
If you’re taking steps to improve your surroundings but are still struggling with your mental health, you may be experiencing signs of a mental health condition.
Take a free, private screening at www.mhascreening.org to help you figure out what is going on and determine next steps.
Or CLICK HERE for more information and support.
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 Month, challenge yourself to look at your world and how different factors can affect your mental health.
The places where a person is born, lives, learns, works, plays and gathers have an impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing. Along with economic stability and social connections, these factors are called social determinants of health, and account for up to half or more of health outcomes.
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:
Having safe, stable, and healthy home conditions set the foundation for achieving and maintaining good mental health.
For many people, not having a true “home base” to consistently return to can leave them feeling distressed, disconnected, or isolated. Stable housing allows individuals to develop routines and connections to their local community, which are beneficial for mental health.
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.
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.
Consider keeping your space tidy, sleep-friendly, and well-ventilated. Surround yourself with items that help you feel calm and positive.
Want to work on shaping your home environment? Try this free downloadable worksheet.
Create bonds with your neighborhood and community:
The area, or ZIP code, that you live in plays a significant role in how healthy you are.
A strong sense of community within neighborhoods protects mental health through shared support, resources, and joy. Challenges like gentrification, community violence, and lack of access to resources can negatively impact mental health.
While many of these can be out of your control, being an advocate for change and making healthy community connections can bring hope. Get to know the people living around you, join or start neighbors-helping-neighbors groups, and support local businesses.
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.
Being around nature doesn’t have to mean hiking in a forest. It can be walking in a park, bringing a plant inside, or sitting in your backyard. You can even keep the shades open to absorb natural light.
Want some ideas about connecting with the outdoors? Try this free downloadable worksheet.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FROM MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA
Reports and Tools
State of Mental Health in America Report 2023: The State of Mental Health in America report is intended to provide up-to-date data and information about disparities faced by individuals with mental health challenges and serve as a tool for change. Learn more about disparities in mental health treatment for youth of color by downloading the report.
MHA’s Workplace Mental Health Toolkit: Creating a Culture of Support and Well-being: The Workplace Mental Health Toolkit provides information on how employers and people leaders can develop or improve workplace policies that uplift workers, ensure they are valued and heard, and improve an organization’s overall culture of well-being. Download the report.
Mapping the Mental Health of Our Communities: For years, Mental Health America has provided free, anonymous, clinically validated mental health screens on our website, MHAScreening.org. Now, for the first time, our researchers and corporate partners at Lundbeck are geographically analyzing the results from millions of those mental health screens and showing you the data in near real time. This is the largest dataset of its kind, and now you can explore it at the state and county level on our powerful dashboard and in four comprehensive briefs.
Our Future in Mind Toolkit: If you want to become an advocate for mental health, the “How to become a mental health advocate in 7 steps” guide is for you. This toolkit is born from Our Future in Mind, a two-day mental health summit hosted by Mental Health America and IDONTMIND, featuring conversations from mental health experts and advocates highlighting their work and pathways to activism.
Safety Not Stigma – Reframing the Way We Talk About Guns and Violence
Handling the Holidays in a Non-LGBTQ+ Affirming Environment
Preventing and Healing from Child Abuse and Neglect
Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth in Our Communities
Workplace Mental Health: Employer Perspective
The Rural Mental Health Crisis
SAFE AND STABLE HOUSING
HEALTHY HOME ENVIRONMENTS
NEIGHBORHOODS AND TOWNS
How You Can Address Both Mental Health and Hunger in Your Community