It’s okay not to be okay: mental health is vital

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and with it we all get a chance to focus on our own mental wellbeing. Over the past two years, champions such as gymnast Simone Biles, Ohio State University soccer player Harry Miller, actress Kristen Bell and many others have shared their stories and worked to end the silence and break the stigma surrounding mental health and getting help. . You don’t have to be famous to be a champion. A champion needs time to reach out, lend a hand, listen and be a friend.

In May and every day, I encourage Floridians to take care of their own mental health and also check in with their friends and family. Mental disorders can affect anyone. In fact, one in five of us will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.

We all struggle with good and bad days; we can have more good days by maintaining a regular routine of self-care. Simple changes make a big difference. Take a moment to go outside for a walk. Ride a bike or sit on a park bench. FaceTime a friend or family member to check in and catch up, join a prayer group, or volunteer locally. Spend time on a favorite hobby, sporting event, or listening to music. And if you or a loved one would benefit from talking to a professional, reach out to that help. Taking care of our mind is just as important as taking care of our body.

It’s okay not to be okay. But it’s not okay to do nothing about it. Seeking help is a sign of strength. You can find the crisis lines of Florida Behavioral Health Association members on the FBHA website. In addition, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis has worked tirelessly to create a behavioral health treatment locator called Hope for Healing that helps people find help in their local communities. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also provides a behavioral health treatment services locator to find help confidentially and anonymously. The national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Members of the Florida Behavioral Health Association are incredibly grateful to Governor Ron DeSantis for his leadership and recognition of the importance of mental wellness, and the Florida legislature for funding a record $126 million in recurring general revenue for services in the field. of mental health and substance use. This investment will enable community providers to help Floridians access life-changing mental health and substance use services.

Be a friend. Break the silence and help end the stigma.

Melanie Brown-Woofter is president and CEO of the Florida Behavioral Health Association, which represents more than 70 statewide mental health and substance use practitioners.

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