Mental Health Month Resources

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2023 Resources

HEALTHY HOME ENVIRONMENTS Keeping your living space clean is shown to promote calmness and a sense of control over your day-to-day life. Your home environment doesn’t need to be spotless, but clutter can be harmful to your mental state – contributing to depression, trouble focusing, confusion, and stress.1 Not only can clutter be distracting, but it has been shown to actually make it harder for your brain to think clearly.2 Neatness also provides predictability, which can cut down on brain fatigue and anxiety. Less time looking for lost items or getting distracted is always a good thing.

NEIGHBORHOODS & TOWNS One of the biggest ways your location can impact your mental health is how easy or hard it is to access the things you need. This includes healthy food, safe outdoor space, quality medical care, and public transportation (which still may not get you where you need to go in a reasonable amount of time even when you do have access). Because local income taxes usually fund public services, low-income areas are often under-resourced in quality education, road maintenance, community programs, and more, which can make it difficult for people to meet their basic needs. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and other marginalized communities often feel these strains the hardest.

SAFE & STABLE HOUSING Stable (or secure) housing means that you aren’t living in uncertainty about your housing situation and generally have a choice over when to move. The opposite of this – housing instability – can mean you’re facing a number of different challenges, like struggling to pay rent, overcrowding in shelters, moving frequently, or spending most of your income on housing.

If you face the possibility of homelessness or move spaces frequently, the stress and anxiety of those situations can wear on you after a while, especially if you’re moving without much notice. Frequent moves also make it hard to develop routines and connections to your local community, which are beneficial for mental health. For many people, not having a true “home base” to consistently return to can leave them feeling distressed, disconnected, or isolated.


Seventy percent of respondents to a Mental Health America Connection Survey reported wishing they had more time outdoors, ideally in nature away from their neighborhoods. Cities often have more stressors to physical and mental health, but green space (like parks and gardens) can reduce their impact. Even spending some time in your backyard (if you have one) can produce positive outcomes, and feeling connected to nature helps your mood even if you don’t spend time outdoors.

Children living in neighborhoods with more green space had a reduced risk of developing depression, mood disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and substance use disorder.

Even being in the presence of indoor plants is worthwhile – studies have found this to improve focus, memory, and stress tolerance.

2022 Resources

Download the 2022 MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA TOOLKIT also or read the individual topics below.

STARTING TO THINK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH Mental health refers to our emotional and social well-being and impacts how we think, feel, and behave. It plays a role in connecting with others, making decisions, handling stress, and many other aspects of daily life. Everyone has mental health, and it deserves your attention just as much as your physical health does.

WHAT PLAYS A ROLE IN DEVELOPING MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS? Most mental health conditions don’t have a single cause – they have many possible causes, called risk factors. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop a mental health condition in your lifetime. Mental health conditions can develop slowly, or symptoms can start to appear more suddenly after you’ve experienced a stressful event or big change.

MAINTAINING GOOD MENTAL HEALTH Whether you realize it or not, mental health plays a big role in your overall well-being. When you’re mentally healthy, you are able to enjoy your life and the people in it, feel good about yourself, keep up good relationships, and deal with stress. It’s normal for your mental health to shift over time – we all face difficult situations in our lives. Creating positive habits is a great way to support your mental health when you’re doing well and helps you build skills to use if you do face symptoms of a mental health condition.

RECOGNIZING WHEN YOU NEED HELP WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH Think about your physical health. We all have days where we feel a bit sore, have a headache, or are extra tired. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sick. You’re sick when something suddenly and significantly changes for the worse or prevents you from functioning properly. Mental health is similar – the occasional bad day is to be expected, but when things that used to be easy become a lot more difficult, something’s going on. Instead of focusing on physical symptoms, you’ll want to look at your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU NEED HELP When living with a mental health condition or facing a mental health concern, it’s common to feel like no one understands what you’re going through. But many people overcome the mental health challenges they face. You aren’t alone – help is out there, and recovery is possible.

TERMS TO KNOW If you’re thinking about addressing your mental health for the first time, you may come across words that seem simple but you aren’t exactly sure what they mean. Below is a list of terms used throughout the 2022 “Back to Basics” Mental Health Month Toolkit.

2021 Resources

Download the 2021 MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA TOOLKIT also or read the individual topics below.

Adapting After Trauma and Stress We all face trauma, adversity, and other stresses throughout our lives. When people think of trauma, they often think of things like abuse, terrorism, or catastrophic events (big ‘T’ trauma). Trauma can also be caused by events that may be less obvious but can still overwhelm your capacity to cope, like frequent arguing at home or losing your job (little ‘t’ trauma). Trauma of any kind can be hard on your mental health but working on becoming more resilient can help you feel more at ease.

Accepting Reality Sometimes in life we end up in situations that we just can’t change. Radical acceptance is all about fully accepting your reality in situations that are beyond your control. This doesn’t mean you approve of the situation, are giving up, or that it isn’t painful. You are still allowed to (and should!) feel however you feel, but by accepting that it is what it is, you give the problem less power over you and you can begin to move forward.

Dealing with Anger and Frustration In challenging times, you may find that you have little patience with other people or get upset over minor things. Anger and frustration are complicated emotions that often stem from other feelings, like disappointment, fear, and stress. Taking some extra steps to decrease your overall tension can prevent your feelings (and the reactions that they cause) from spiraling out of control.

Getting Out of Thinking Traps It’s easy to fall into negative thinking patterns and spend time bullying yourself, dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future. It’s part of how we’re wired – the human brain reacts more intensely to negative events than to positive ones and is more likely to remember insults than praise. During tough times, negative thoughts are especially likely to spiral out of control. When these thoughts make something out to be worse in your head than it is in reality, they are called cognitive distortions.

Processing Big Changes Change is a guaranteed part of life. It’s something everyone experiences at one point or another — good or bad. Sometimes that change happens in big ways when we aren’t expecting it or aren’t prepared for it. These types of situations can make navigating your path forward really difficult. By providing yourself with tools for processing change, you can adapt more easily.

Taking Time for Yourself There are always a handful of roles that each of us are juggling. If you are a parent, a student, an employee, a caretaker, someone struggling with a mental health concern, or are just feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of day-to-day life, the idea of taking time for yourself may seem unimaginable. Sometimes it can be dicult to even take basic care of ourselves - but there are small things that can be done to make self-care and taking time for ourselves a little bit easier.

2020 Resources

Download the 2020 MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA TOOLKIT also or read the individual topics below.

Owning Your Feelings It can be easy to get caught up in your emotions as you’re feeling them. Most people don’t think about what emotions they are dealing with, but taking the time to really identify what you’re feeling can help you to better cope with challenging situations. Learn some great tips for success.

Finding the Positive After Loss At some point in our lives we will all experience loss. It may be the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, losing a home, or the death of a loved one. It is natural to go through a grieving process. By looking for opportunity in adversity or finding ways to remember the good things about who or what we’ve lost, we can help ourselves to recover mentally and emotionally. Learn more about tips for getting by.

Connecting with Others It’s possible to be surrounded by people and still feel alone. It’s the connections we make with other people that help enrich our lives and get us through tough times, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to make those connections. Learn some useful tips for connecting.

Eliminating Toxic Influences Certain people and situations in life can trigger us to feel badly about ourselves or engage in destructive behaviors. Identifying the toxic influences in our lives and taking steps to create boundaries or a new life without them can improve mental and physical health over time. Learn about Traits of toxic people.

Creating Healthy Routines Work, paying bills, cleaning, cooking, shopping, exercising, getting enough sleep, and taking care of children are just some of the things millions of Americans do each day and it is easy to be overwhelmed. It can feel impossible to get everything done, let alone take care of yourself – especially if you’re already struggling with a mental health concern like depression or anxiety. By creating routines, we organize our days in such a way that taking care of tasks and ourselves becomes a pattern that makes it easier to get things done without having to think hard about them. Learn abut tips for success.

Supporting Others While 1 in 5 people will experience a diagnosable mental health condition in their lives, 5 out of 5 people will go through a challenging time that aspects their mental health. There are simple things that every person can say or do to help the people in their life who are struggling to get through the tough times. Learn how you can be helpful.

Helping You Find: