Mental Health Awareness Month a time to reflect on factors impacting our wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Month 2023

By Angela Cowan, MSW, LICSW • Counseling Manager & Therapist

Throughout the month of May, landmarks around Minnesota have displayed green lights in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month. During this month, May 11 also marked the end of the Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, a milestone in this pandemic that has had a significant impact on mental health across the United States and the world.

The onset of COVID-19 changed our global environment and increased feelings of fear, isolation, loneliness, and uncertainty. While the total impact of the pandemic is not known, statistics have shown a significant increase in mental health diagnoses and symptoms in recent years.

According to the World Health Organization, the first year of the pandemic set off a “25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide.” Data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed a 5% decline in rates of suicide between 2018 and 2020 and then a steady increase in rates of suicide in 2021. The increase in depression, anxiety, and rates of suicide highlights the significant role environmental factors can play in mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Month provides an opportunity to reflect upon ongoing environmental and other factors impacting our own mental health. Knowing what impacts us allows us to find an effective response – a strategy to cope. For a closer look at strategies to cope, watch a breakout session video from the Annual Conference on Mental Health, Navigating Uncertainty: Traversing the Emotional and Social Impact of the Pandemic.

In addition to bringing awareness to factors impacting our own mental health, Mental Health Awareness Month may also be a time to learn more about mental health by attending a Mental Health First Aid course. It may also be a time to engage in mental health advocacy by reaching out to your local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) chapter or connecting with Mental Health America.

If you would like to meet with a mental health provider, contact us at 952-546-0616. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please dial 9-8-8 or text MN to 741 741. Click here for more information on JFCS’ Counseling team.