April showers bring May flowers. And what does May bring? Well, as we approach the end of this month it seems that May 2017 has brought with it a heaviness. May brought with it a multitude of tragedies. May was sad. So I find it utterly appropriate that May is mental health awareness month. Did you know that 1 in 5 adults in the US will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime?
Our culture seems to treat physical and mental health in very different ways. I find myself often talking with my patients about how best to prevent things like cancer, heart disease, bone loss and other physical ailments. As physicians we often forget to remind our patients to take care of their own mental health. In fact, I would dare to say that for most of us our mental health takes a back seat to all other areas of our lives. We are so busy caring for the needs of others, worrying about the world around us, and so on and so forth, that we forget to stop and reorient ourselves towards health for both our body and our minds.
So in the same way that we should prepare our bodies for long term health and wellness, let us prepare our minds. It means taking time to rest our minds, find peace in our heart and extend kindness to our minds. So on the last day of this month full of distress, take time to create some new mental health habits. Find your support system. Those people who will check on you when the days are long and hope runs thin. Take some slow, deep breaths when life seems to be moving fast. Take a walk, preferably in the warm sunshine. Do something just for yourself like reading a book, attending a yoga class, writing something in a journal.
And finally, if you need us, we are here. Physicians. We care about your mental health. We are ready to listen, to provide empathy, to give resources and to remind you that you are not alone and that there is help. So say goodbye to May, but say hello to better mental health my friends.