We all know that the topic of mental health isn't always welcomed in open arms in the African-American community—just ask our health hero Ashley Smith. And if we can't talk about it, that means we are not seeking the help that we desperately need. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, more than half of African-Americans go without treatment for mental illness for diseases such as bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia.
To raise awareness around mental illness and mental health for all, every May is Mental Health Month. This year, there are two themes. The first one is Do One for More 1 in 4. This call to action is geared at helping the 1 in 4 American adults who live with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition. The takeaway from this is simple: You can go on to live full and productive lives, but you have to get the professional help that you need.
The second theme is Live Well! It's Essential for Your Potential, which focuses on the importance of mental wellness and the steps everyone can take to improve their well-being and resiliency. They offer up 10 proven tips to living well, coping with stress and feeling more hopeful:
—Connect with others: Fight stress by having friends and improving bonds with other people.
—Stay positive: Changing your thinking can change your life. Take steps to improve your optimism.
—Help others: Instead of sipping drinks at Happy Hour, volunteering at your local homeless shelter may make you feel better.
—Get physically active: Working out can actually improve your mood and make you happier.
—Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can hurt your health and your relationships. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep a day.
—Create joy and satisfaction: Feeling good is good for you. Find activities that make you happy. Join a book club, go bowling, or take a dance class. Just find something that makes you happy.
—Eat well: The right foods can fuel your mind, boost your mood and improve your health. Instead of filling up on fatty, high-calorie processed foods and meats, opt for fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats and fish.
—Take care of your spirit: Praying, meditating or just staying connected with a higher power can improve your outlook on life.
—Deal better with hard times: There are healthier ways to deal with the bad stuff in life. Click here for tips.
—Get professional help if you need it: Don't hesitate to seek professional help. Learn more about treatment, medications, therapy and more.
Here are some ideas on how to improve your mental health on a shoestring budget.