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Mental well-being is just as important as physical health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Our mental well-being is just as important as our physical health and is an essential part of our overall wellness. Mental health exists on a continuum and can range anywhere from mental wellness to mental illness; where an individual falls on that continuum at a given time can vary depending on a variety of factors. If we consider mental health from this perspective, recognizing that we all have it, we may then begin to ask ourselves why it is often such a difficult topic to discuss? The reason is that there is a great deal of stigma attached to mental health. Stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person.” (Oxford Dictionary).

The truth is that no matter where an individual falls on the continuum of mental health, s/he has strengths, talents, interests and abilities. Whether a person is mentally healthy or mentally ill, they have feelings, hopes and dreams; they love others, and they are loved in return.

As a society, our discussions regarding mental health and wellness need to change from “us versus them” to “we” because we all have mental health, we are affected by the health of others, and true healing and growth comes from within an individual nurtured by a compassionate and understanding community.

The Mental Health Association in Fulton and Montgomery Counties (MHAFM) is a not-for-profit organization that works to end the stigma against mental illness and promotes mental health wellness in Fulton and Montgomery counties. MHAFM achieves this through training, education, advocacy, community-based partnership and programming, and by connecting individuals and families to help. For more information about the programs and services offered by MHAFM, please call (518) 762-5332, visit our website at www.mentalhealthassociation.org, or follow us on Facebook.

NANCY DEUMAGA

Johnstown

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