May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an observance sponsored by Mental Health America to promote overall well-being for all Americans. This year's theme is "B4Stage4: Changing the Way We Think About Mental Health."
During the month of May, CBP will be providing employees and their family members with information on the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems. CBP will also share important information on the resources that CBP has in place to help employees and their eligible family members build their resilience.
Part 1: Before Stage Four
Think about how you take care of your body. You probably have regular physicals where you get age-appropriate screenings for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. If you start to develop signs or symptoms of these diseases such as a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, you probably make an appointment to see your doctor so that you can develop a plan of action to reverse progression of this disease.
We should think about mental illnesses in the same way that we think about these other physical conditions. When people first begin to experience the symptoms of a mental health condition, these symptoms shouldn't be ignored or brushed aside in the hopes that they will go away. The earlier these problems are treated, the easier it is for people to get on the road to recovery.
To learn more about symptoms of common mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, and mood disorders you can visit SAMHSA's Mental Health webpage. You can also access a fact sheet with more information about risk factors for mental health problems.
Part 2: Recognize the Symptoms
According to the National Institutes of Health, one in five American adults have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. Some early symptoms of a developing mental health condition can include difficulty sleeping, feeling tired for no reason, persistent negative emotions, or feeling anxious. Many people do not seek treatment in the early stages of mental illnesses because they don't recognize the symptoms.
The screening tools offered by the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. These online screenings are an anonymous, free, and private way to learn about your mental health and see if you, or someone you care about, have any warning signs of a mental illness.
A screening only takes a few minutes, and after you are finished you will be given information about the next steps you should take based on the results. A screening is not a diagnosis, but it can be a helpful tool for starting a conversation with the EAP, your doctor, or a loved one about your mental health.
Mental illnesses are not only common, they are treatable. There is a wide variety of treatment options for mental illnesses ranging from talk therapy to medication to peer support, and it may take some time for a person to find the right treatment or combination of treatments that works best for them. But when they do, the results can be truly amazing and life changing.
CBP employees and their eligible family members can schedule a mental health checkup through the EAP. The EAP is a voluntary, free, and confidential resource available to all CBP employees and their eligible family members. For assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, please call 800-755-7002 or request services by secure email on the Member Access page of the EAP website (password: cbpeap).