Guest Blog: May is Mental Health Month by Sue Abderholden, Executive Director, NAMI Minnesota

As we finally emerge from the cold dark winter our thoughts turn to spring — and green. Not the green from our grass or the leaves on the trees, but to mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and green is the color being used to symbolize awareness.

Mental health is a continuum, from having very good mental health to having a serious mental illness. Good mental health means being able to learn, express a range of emotions, form and maintain good relationships, and cope with change and uncertainty.

Common Signs of Mental Illness

  • Difficulty concentrating; lack of focus
  • Unable to tolerate stress or time pressures
  • Problems remembering things
  • Unable to make decisions
  • Lack of cooperation; can’t be flexible
  • Responds poorly to feedback
  • Tardiness or frequent absences
  • Hyperactivity, sluggishness, lethargic
  • Decreased productivity
  • Emotional, angry, bursts into tears

Like any health care condition, it’s important to identify symptoms early and seek treatment. One in four adults and one in five children live with a mental illness. Promoting good mental health, such as learning to deal with stress, can help, but making sure a mental illness is identified and treated early may prevent it from becoming a disabling condition.

Unfortunately, people aren’t comfortable talking about mental health or mental illnesses. There is a cloak of silence around it. During the month of May we encourage people to talk about it.

You can direct people to the Make It Ok campaign or the NAMI Minnesota website to learn more about mental illnesses, how to talk about it, and to request a speaker.

Facts About Mental Health in the Workplace

Action Steps Employers Can Take

Helpful Resources

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Workplaces That Thrive: A Resource for Creating Mental Health-Friendly Work Environments.

Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation, A Mentally Healthy Workforce – It’s Good for Business.