Wellness Tips from the Long Beach Health Department
May is Mental Health Awareness Month where communities across the nation highlight the importance and access to metal health supports. Mental health is a vital part of our overall health and well-being, and challenges with mental health are more common than we may think. For example, 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth ages 6 to 17 in the U.S. struggle with their mental health each year. And more than half of people who struggle with their mental health do not receive professional treatment of support, and tragically one person dies by suicide very 11 minutes in our Country.
The City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services has launched the Mental Health Matters Awareness campaign, which seeks to normalize and destigmatize mental health and improve access and connection to mental health supports in Long Beach. Part of this campaign is to identify members of the community as Mental Health Champions. Mental Health Champions make Long Beach a community where mental health matters. They do this by making spaces of non-judgment and help normalize mental health and breaking down the stigma against it.
Within ourselves, it can be making time to think about what’s been going on in our life and how we’re feeling. With others, it can look like reaching out to people we care about and offering to help in the ways we can. With different businesses, organizations, and institutions for learning, it can look like having programs and policies in place to help promote the wellbeing of staff, students, and community members.
“May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health matters year-round, but Mental Health Awareness Month is a good reminder to intentionally bring our attention to how we’re feeling and observe and listen to ourselves and others around us who might be struggling,” Long Beach Health Department Director Kelly Colopy said. “That’s what it means to be a Mental Health Champion, to understand and share with others that it’s okay to not be okay, and there is help all around Long Beach.”
We are all Mental Health Champions in our own ways and we might not even realize it! Taking the pledge to be a Mental Health Champion helps us celebrate the work we’re already doing to normalize and destigmatize mental health. Additionally, those who take the pledge will receive a window-cling, sticker, and certificate of appreciation to proudly display to help community members identify spaces around Long Beach that are creating safe and responsive environments for mental health.
“Pledging to be a Mental Health Champion is a show of awareness and support for yourself and those around you,” Colopy said. “Anyone can be a Mental Health Champion, and the Long Beach Health Department wants to recognize and uplift that.”
The Long Beach Health Department is offering the following tips for Mental Health Champions to consider when supporting their own mental health and that of those around them:
- Check-in with yourself and ask others to check-in with you. Our moods, thoughts, behaviors and bodies tell us when our mental health needs attention. Checking in helps us identify how we can take care of ourselves and each other.
- Notice those around you, and practice active listening. Be aware of signs that someone may be struggling by noticing changes in overall demeanor and functioning. When listening, be an active listener—making sure you have the time and space to give your complete attention to whoever is talking and ask questions about what they are sharing.
- Be open-minded and practice non-judgement. When someone shares their experience with you, take them seriously and validate what they are saying by acknowledging their perspective—this does not mean that you agree with everything they are sharing or that you would have a similar response in this situation. To be supportive of someone, put your personal opinions aside.
- Ask how you can offer support. Everyone has different ways of feeling supported by others. It’s always better to ask what kind of support a person needs, but sometimes it can be difficult for individuals to accept support from others or to know what support looks like. You can offer up a few suggestions for things you would be willing to do to help them take care of daily responsibilities, things such as grocery shopping or dog walking. Or, you may simply want to make yourself available to talk.
- Be patient with yourself and others. Everyone’s journey and relationship with their mental health is different. It can be a big relief for someone to share what they’ve been dealing with, but mental health struggles do not usually get better with one conversation—it’s an ongoing process. Give them and yourself some time. It’s okay to set boundaries around certain times or days that you aren’t available.
- Learn more about mental health. Everyone can benefit from learning more about common forms of mental health conditions as well as available treatments and resources. We may learn something important about ourselves and those we care about, since mental health impacts how we all think, feel and act at every stage in life.
- Know when more help is needed. You are one person and one source of support, but it can often take a community and professional help to assist those who are struggling with their mental health. It’s okay to ask for help for yourself or to encourage those you know to seek additional help. If you think you or someone you know might hurt themselves or others, call or text 988 for Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
- Take the pledge. Mental health is an important part of our overall wellbeing. Take the Long Beach Health Department’s Mental Health Champion pledge to do your part by tending to your own mental health, supporting others around you, and actively building environments that promote mental health wherever you go.
“What we really hope people remember most is that they are not alone, and there are many ways to find support,” Colopy said.
Additional tips, including resources for promoting mental wellbeing in office and learning environments, are available on the Health Department’s website, which also includes a guide to local mental health support and treatment services.
In case of a crisis, call or text 988.