Melanie Brown-Woofter: It’s OK to not be OK; May is Mental Health Month

Lime Green ribbon for Lymphoma Cancer and mental health awarenes
Simple changes make a big difference.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and with it comes an opportunity for each of us to focus on our own mental wellbeing.

Over the past two years, champions like gymnast Simone Biles, Ohio State University football player Harry Miller, actor 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 do not have to be famous to be a champion. A champion takes time to reach out, offer a hand, listen, and be a friend.

Throughout May and every day, I encourage Floridians to care for their own mental health and to check on their friends and family too. Mental health disorders can affect anyone. In fact, one in five of us will experience a mental illness in our lifetime.

We all struggle with good days 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 few moments to go outside for a walk, bike ride 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, sports event or listening to music. And if you or a loved one would benefit from talking to a professional, reach out for that help. Taking care of our mind is just as important as taking care of our bodies.

It is OK to not be OK. But it is not OK to not do anything about it. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength. You can find the Florida Behavioral Health Association’s members’ crisis lines on the FBHA website. In addition, Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis has worked tirelessly on a behavioral health treatment services locator called Hope for Healing, which helps folks find help in their local community. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also offers a behavioral health treatment services locator to find help confidentially and anonymously. The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

The Florida Behavioral Health Association’s members are incredibly grateful to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his leadership and recognition of the importance of mental wellbeing and to the Florida Legislature for funding a record $126 million in recurring general revenue for mental health and substance use services. This investment ensures community providers can help Floridians access life-changing mental health and substance use services.

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

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Melanie Brown-Woofter is president and CEO of the Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA) and a registered nurse. The FBHA represents over 70 community mental health and substance use treatment providers statewide.

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