Week 2: 2022 Mental Health Awareness Month | Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Week 2: 2022 Mental Health Awareness Month

May 10, 2022

Mental health plays a big role in overall well-being. As we go through life we have both good and bad experiences. By balancing our experiences with the basics of mental health, we can incorporate positive habits as a way to support our own mental wellness and lead a healthy life.

Please join us through the month of May to honor Mental Health Awareness Month with weekly activities aimed to enhance your overall wellness.

Starting Monday, May 2, surveys will be available for the posted weekly activities, so bookmark the Mental Health Awareness Month page and come back each week for your opportunity to win a $100 Visa gift card and prize package! Prize winners will be selected at random. One entry per person, per week.

Week 2, May 9-15: What factors protect our mental health

What we will learn:

  • What are risk and protective factors
  • How risk and protective factors play a role in protecting our mental health

Mental health conditions can develop slowly, or symptoms can appear suddenly after you have experienced a stressful event. Most mental health conditions do not have a single cause, and have different risk factors. A risk factor is any characteristic or exposure that increases an individual’s risk of negative outcomes.

Risk factors that can affect mental health are:

  • Difficult conditions, in which we live, learn, work and play.
  • Experiences that are highly stressful, shocking or dangerous causing trauma.
  • Use of substances such as drugs or alcohol that can cause a mental condition by affecting your mood, sleep, relationships and physical health.
  • Not getting enough high-quality sleep, choosing unhealthy food choices regularly, lack of exercise and poor stress management.

We also have protective factors that reduce risks while increasing overall health and well-being. An example of a protective factor is social support like our family, friends and Elders that share their knowledge.

Protective factors that can improve mental health are:

  • Generosity to share our traditional foods with an Elder.
  • Spirituality lifts our spirits and help us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.
  • Participating in healthy activities such beading, art, hunting, berry picking, being in nature, drumming and dancing.

Activity: Re-energize with quality sleep

Sleep plays a role in our moods, ability to learn and make memories, organ health, immune system and other body functions like appetite, metabolism and hormone release. Quality sleep matters, not just how many hours we get.

Aim to:

★         Be asleep for 85% of the time you are in bed.

★         Fall asleep in under 30 minutes.

★         Wake up no more than once per night for no longer than 20 minutes.

★       Keep a sleep log noting your sleep habits.

Here are a few pointers on sleep hygiene that may be helpful. We can aim for the items listed, but often we do not accomplish them due to poor sleep hygiene.

  • If you do not fall asleep after 30 minutes, get out of bed until you feel sleepy.
  • Use your bed for sleep or intimate behavior only. Avoid watching television or using your computer or telephone in bed.
  • Develop a consistent nighttime routine such as turning off technology, brushing your teeth, putting on calming music and doing some gentle stretches 20 minutes before bed.
  • Go to bed at about the same time every night.
  • If you experience insomnia, consider reaching out to a counselor for support. Treatment, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) use a counselor and client approach to identify problem solving skills, understanding one’s own pattern of thinking and behavior and identifying strategies to cope with life’s challenges. CBT can help and relatively quickly!

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