May is Mental Health Awareness month, a time to remember that your mental health is essential to your overall health and well-being, and to reinforce that mental illnesses are common and treatable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States, with an estimated 1 in 5 Americans experiencing some form mental illness in any given year. Several factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as:
- Early adverse life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse such as child abuse, sexual assault, witnessing violence, and more.
- Experiences related to other ongoing medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes.
- Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain.
- Use of alcohol or drugs.
- Having feelings of loneliness or isolation.
- Your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help strengthen your coping skills and is a good first call for any questions or concerns you have about your mental health or the mental health of someone you care about. EAP provides you and your eligible household members with free and confidential support for a wide array of personal challenges. EAP assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, contact your Component EAP.
- DHS Components with peer support programs have trained volunteers who provide support for colleagues with work related or personal issues. This service is confidential with limited exceptions. For more information, contact your Component Work-Life coordinator or your Component Human Resources Office to connect you with the peer support program lead.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation and works to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), is a free, confidential, treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and substance use disorders. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Your Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program provides health plans with a variety of mental health services that can help you and your family.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has several mobile apps with tools to help veterans focus on mental health. These apps include tools for managing insomnia, practicing mindfulness, exploring physical fitness, smoking cessation, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and more. To learn more and access these apps visit, VA Mobile Apps - My HealtheVet.
- The Columbia Protocol app offers suicide risk assessment through a series of simple questions that anyone can ask. The answers help you identify whether someone is at risk for suicide, assess the severity and immediacy of that risk, and gauge the level of support that someone may need.
- Your Component Work-Life team has programs that support emotional, psychological, and social well-being in the workplace and at home. They offer resources available to focus on common life stressors, such as dependent care, personal relationships, financial literacy, and legal concerns. To learn more, contact your contact your Worklife Agency Coordinator or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While May is Mental Health Awareness month, remember to focus on your mental well-being and overall health every day. These resources and other work-life programs are available throughout the year to assist you in those efforts.