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May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Mental Health Matters

By Andrea Nikolai

My expertise is food and nutrition, but a lot of different things contribute to health. Food and nutrition play an important part, but other things such as a person’s social, spiritual, and mental health all play a role. If one is way off balance, the other areas can also suffer.

When a person’s mental health is suffering, it can be harder to make healthy decisions and fight off disease.

This is the month to help increase awareness of the importance of mental health. It affects millions of adults each year. More than half of Americans report that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health. One of every five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. As of data available in 2021, 2,889,000 adults in Florida have a mental health condition. That is more than 6 times the population of Miami!

Here are some facts I thought stood out:

  • Major depression is one mental health disorder, and women are twice as likely to suffer from this than men. Men and women are equally likely to develop bipolar disorder.

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34, and the fourth for ages 34-54.

  • Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. Early support can help a child before it interferes with other developmental needs.

  • The majority of people with mental health are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don't even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.

  • People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Can you separate the myths from the facts? Take the quiz here.

Find out more about each mental disorder and some symptoms at the National Institute of Mental Health, the leading federal agency for research on mental health disorders. Find help here.

For other facts and myths, check out this resource.


Andrea Nikolai, MPH, RDN, LDN is a passionate, upbeat, and self-motivated registered dietitian nutritionist with a unique background of marketing and nutrition. She enjoys thinking creatively and working with food and nutrition to empower others and make it easier for people to make healthier choices.

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