Mental health is at the forefront of many public conversations, and rightly so. An increasing number of people are now seeing it for what it is: a vital component of overall health and well-being, equally important to physical health. However, mental health conditions, resources and conversations can still feel complicated and out of reach.

Many people are learning about mental health topics for the first time. Understanding the topic can help if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health condition or crisis. Around half of people in the U.S. will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life, so everyone should be informed and aware.

There is often no one single cause for a mental health condition; rather, there are many possible risk factors that can influence how likely a person is to experience a mental health condition or how serious the symptoms may be.

Some risk factors for mental health conditions include:

  • trauma, which can be a one-time event or ongoing
  • your environment and its impact on your health and quality of life
  • genetics
  • brain chemistry
  • your habits and lifestyle

Understanding the risk factors for a mental health condition can be more difficult when it’s your own mental health. Take time to ask yourself about your thoughts, feelings and behaviors to see if this is part of a pattern that may be caused by a mental health condition. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Have things that used to feel easy started feeling difficult?
  • Does the idea of doing daily tasks, like making your bed, now feel really, really difficult?
  • Have you lost interest in activities and hobbies you used to enjoy?
  • Do you feel irritated, possibly to the point of lashing out at people you care about?

Our society focuses much more on physical health than mental health, but both are equally important. If you are concerned about your mental health, you are not alone – help is available, and recovery is possible. Simply acknowledging that you are struggling is a big step.

Taking a screening at can help you to better understand what you are experiencing and connect you to helpful resources. Your screening results can be used to start a conversation with your primary care provider or a trusted friend or family member, and you can begin to plan a course of action for addressing your mental health.

 Source: Mental Health America, Mental Health Month Toolkit