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May is Mental Health Month

May 23.

On May 17th, the CNN website had a story entitled “More than 1 in 6 adults have depression as rates rise to record levels in the US, survey finds”.

The story went on to say, “Depression is more widespread than ever in the United States, according to a new report from Gallup.”

The Gallup report showed:

  • Clinical depression in a person's lifetime and current depression both hit new highs

  • Women and young adults have experienced the greatest increases

  • Black and Hispanic adults with depression is rising at about twice the rate of White adults

The percentage of U.S. adults who report having been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime has reached 29.0%, nearly 10 percentage points higher than in 2015, according to Gallup. As well, the percentage of Americans who currently have or are being treated for depression has also increased, to 17.8%, up about seven points over the same period. Gallup reports that “both rates are the highest recorded since it began measuring depression using the current form of data collection in 2015”.

One of the important things to remember, however, is that depression is treatable, and that there are a wide range of treatment options. According to Psychology Today, there are “many effective treatments for depression”, including:

  • Psychotherapy, which aims to correct the “errors of thought and belief that unwittingly underlie depression and to facilitate strategies for coping with stress”

  • Medication (doctors have a wide variety of meds they can prescribe) to provide relief of symptoms

  • Neuromodulation, which “involves methods of directly stimulating neural circuitry to restore effective communication between key areas of brain function”

  • Natural or lifestyle measures, such as diet and exercise, joining a group, getting involved with others in volunteering, getting more sleep and practicing meditation, for instance

According to, which is an independent non-profit that has one of the world’s leading mental health websites, “looking after your emotional well-being is just as important as caring for your physical health. By actively nurturing wellness, you’re better able to handle life’s challenges and bounce back when bad things happen.”

People who are mentally healthy have:

  • A sense of contentment

  • A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun

  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity

  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both activities and relationships

  • The flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change

  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.

  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships

  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem

A discussion of the 6 Keys to Mental Health:

Social Connection. As says it, “Phone calls and social networks have their place, but nothing can beat the stress-busting, mood-building power of quality face-to-face time with other people.” See more tips to the left.

Staying Active. We all know that exercise is an important component of our overall health. Over the last decade alone, the “Walk 10,000 Steps a Day” challenge has helped millions to lose weight and stay in shape through something we all do every day. Walking, like all physical activity, releases endorphins, which help lift your mood and provide added energy. Walk at work! Take a walk outside during lunchtime, throw a ball or Frisbee to your dog, dance to your favorite music, bike with your kids. There are all kinds of way to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day!

Managing Stress. There’s no surprise in the fact that stress takes a heavy toll on our overall health. There are many stress management strategies to help you maintain balance in your life. Some ideas:

  • Talk to a friendly face (not over text or other social media, but face-to-face)

  • Appeal to your senses (listen to an uplifting song, cook your favorite dessert, look at your favorite photos, etc.)

  • Make leisure time a priority (go to a movie, walk on the beach, listen to music, read a book, talk to a good friend); all things that you should do just for the enjoyment of them

  • Make time for contemplation and appreciation (think about the things you’re grateful for, pray, meditate, enjoy the sunset)

  • Take up a relaxation process (yoga, mindfulness meditation, deep breathing)

To learn more about understanding your emotions, find an Emotional Intelligence Toolkit HERE

Brain-Healthy Diet. Usually we associate the word “diet” with losing weight. And food does have a big effect on our health, so it’s no surprise that an overall unhealthy food regimen can take a toll on your brain and mood, disrupt your sleep, sap your energy and weaken your immune system (switching to a wholesome diet, low in sugar and rich in healthy fats, can give you more energy, improve your sleep and mood and help you to look and feel your best).

Quality Sleep. Have you the heard the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”? When it comes to mental health, however, getting enough sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night, but rarely do we attain that. So, the key is working on getting quality sleep. One way to do that is to prepare for sleep by winding down, by taking a break from TV, phone, tablet and computer a couple of hours before you go to bed. Yes, a couple of hours! The ideal bedroom should be dark, cool and quiet. And sticking to a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends, can help you get the quality sleep you need.

Meaning and Purpose. Science tells us that finding meaning and purpose in life is essential to brain health because it can help generate new cells and create new neural pathways in the brain. It can also strengthen your immune system, alleviate pain, relieve stress and keep you motivated to pursue the other steps to improve mental and emotional health every day. What gives you meaning and purpose? Here are some ideas:

  • Engaging work that provides meaning to yourself and others

  • Relationships (quality time with your spouse, your kids, friends, grandkids or elderly relatives)

  • We’re hard-wired to be social, and we’re also hard-wired to help others - explore volunteer opportunities (watch for FT Cares Foundation volunteer days!)

  • Caregiving to an aging parent, a handicapped person in your family or a child with physical or mental disabilities are acts of kindness that can be as rewarding to you as to the person(s) you’re helping.


If you’re looking for more information about how to balance your mental and physical health needs, check out the website, from where the above tips were taken. The websites for the organizations listed below have lots of helpful information as well.

There are four organizations the Foundation has supported that have great track records of fulfilling their particular missions:

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a national organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI, which has more than 600 chapters and alliances throughout the United States, considers itself the nation’s leading voice on mental health. Its website is packed with information for those who may be suffering from a mental illness, for someone who is supporting a person with a mental illness and tons of educational material. Find more information HERE.

Fox Valley Hands of Hope, located in Geneva, provides compassionate guidance and expert support for children, families and adults who are experiencing loss or life-threatening illness. FVHH focuses on grief because “grief touches everyone in a lifetime” and while it is a necessary part of the human experience, it can make us feel isolated and alone. From its website: "Unattended grief can affect the development of children, causing behavioral and anger problems as well as difficulty in school. Grief can also affect the mental well-being of adults, causing anxiety, depression, fracturing of relationships and failure of careers.” Find more information HERE.

Haymarket Center, located in Chicago, helps people to overcome substance abuse disorders through its comprehensive behavioral health solutions. It is the largest not-for-profit, community-based adult detoxification, residential and outpatient substance use treatment facility in Chicago. In 1975, the founders of Haymarket, Monsignor Ignatius McDermott and Dr. James West, understood that addiction is a disease and therefore, believed that patients should be treated with innovative, high quality, community-based behavioral health programs that are gender responsive, culturally appropriate and population specific (vs. criminalization). Learn more HERE.

TriCity Family Services is located in Geneva. Founded in 1967, TriCity provides quality mental health services that are accessible and affordable to all. It offers counseling, family-based treatment for eating disorders, psychiatric services, emotional wellness workshops and support groups and employee assistance programs. Articles on TriCity’s website address such things as bipolar disorder, depression, exercise and mental health, generalized anxiety disorder, helping children cope with disturbing news, PTSD, practicing mindfulness and sleep and mental health. Find more information HERE.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS EXPERIENCING A MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION, HELP IS AVAILABLE AND ACCESSIBLE. You can call or text “988” (or chat online at 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s website) for free, confidential and immediate help. You can also call 1-800-662 HELP (4357) to access the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 24/7 helpline. You can also find help in First Trust's Employee Assistance Program HERE.


May 9.

Mental health has become a huge issue in this country. And while it may not be an easy topic to talk about, the Foundation has always recognized and supported organizations that work to help others with mental health issues.

What is Mental Health? Many people have a negative association with “mental health.” The words can conjure images of dangerous individuals looking to do harm to others. But mental health is much broader and more complicated than any one individual. The majority of people who have a mental illness aren’t a danger to themselves or others. In fact, most people who have a mental illness diagnosis live with it no differently than if they had a physical ailment, like diabetes, for instance. Doctors in the field stress that it’s important to remember that every person has mental health and it’s necessary to take care of your brain just as you do your physical health.

The CDC's Definition. Mental health encompasses emotional, psychological and social well-being and influences a person’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It likewise determines how an individual handles stress, relates to others and helps create healthy decision-making. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

The CDC also states that "mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health." If an individual’s capacity to feel, think and act in ways to achieve a better quality of life becomes impaired, that individual is at risk for mental disorders or mental illnesses. And suffering from a mental health issue like depression, for instance, increases the risk for types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting ones like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Of course, factors such as diet, exercise, stress, drug abuse, social connections and interactions all contribute to a person's overall mental and physical health.

Forbes Health published this list of statistics in late April/2023 (stats from latest report year: 2020):

  • 32.1% of U.S. adults experienced both a mental health condition and substance abuse

  • Almost 16% of U.S. veterans experienced a mental health condition such as PTSD, depression or substance abuse

  • As of 2020, suicide is the second leading cause of death for U.S. children ages 10 – 14, preceded only by unintentional injury

  • Young adults ages 18 - 25 have the highest rate of experiencing any mental health concerns (30.6%), compared to adults aged 26 – 49 years, and the highest rate of serious mental illness (9.7%)

  • 51.2% of U.S. females received mental health services, while only 37.4% of males received mental health services Mental Health Across Different Populations (Forbes Health)

Forbes Health also took a look at how individuals across the U.S. are affected by certain mental health conditions. Generally speaking, CDC reports that more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness and that 1 in 5 youth (ages 13 -18) either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness.

  • Anxiety. Generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorders are some of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in the U.S. and affect 42.5 million adults

  • Depression. 21 million American adults are living with depression, while 3.7 million people ages 12 -17 experience major depression and 2.5 million people ages 12 – 17 experience severe depression

  • Bipolar Disorder. There are 3.3 million U.S. adults with a bipolar disorder diagnosis

  • Schizophrenia. Around 1.5 million U.S. adults have a diagnosis of schizophrenia

The Mental Health Stigma. For many decades a stigma has existed about mental health, but as Dr. Angeleena Francis, a licensed mental health counselor and the executive Director at AMFH Healthcare, says, “mental illness is a disease and like any other medical condition, individuals need support, intervention and continued care to address their symptoms.” She also points out that talking about mental health “does not cause or increase mental health issues or diagnosis, but rather allows for individuals to seek help at lower levels of care” since many mental health services are now offered in primary care settings. She points to these treatment statistics (Dr. Francis's remarks are credited to the Forbes Health article):

  • While the percentage of U.S. adults receiving mental health treatment has increased, 42% of adults with a diagnosable condition reported that they could not afford to access the treatment they needed

  • 93.5% of adults with a substance abuse disorder did not receive treatment in 2022

  • 10% of youth covered by private insurance did not have access to mental health services last year

  • Underscoring a shortage of mental health professionals, a recent report cited only one provider was available for every 350 individuals in need of services

How Does Mental Health Impact Communities?

  • 1 out of every 8 ER visits involve a mental health or substance abuse disorder

  • Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, drive most hospitalizations for Americans under the age of 45 (adjusting for pregnancy and childbirth)

  • Nearly 21% of those experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity have a serious mental health condition

  • The majority of youth (70%) in juvenile detention centers have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder

  • Severe mental health conditions cost the U.S. economy $193.2 billion in lost revenue

In our second post this month, we’ll discuss how you can build better mental health, how to help others who might be suffering and we’ll name some of our charity partners working in the field of mental health.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS EXPERIENCING A MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION, HELP IS AVAILABLE AND ACCESSIBLE. You can call or text “988” (or chat online at 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s website) for free, confidential and immediate help. You can also call 1-800-662 HELP (4357) to access the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 24/7 helpline. You can also find help in First Trust's Employee Assistance Program HERE. Additional resources are available for download below.

2023 Perspectives EAP - Mental Health
Download PDF • 714KB
2023 Perspectives EAP - Anxiety Tools
Download PDF • 2.08MB


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