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Alexandria, VA - Mental Health America (MHA) is proud to have started May is Mental Health Month in 1949, and since then has led the observance by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and online mental health screenings. Over the past seventy years, it has become the most widely recognized mental health awareness effort in the world.

Every year, MHA develops a toolkit for Mental Health Month around a particular theme. This year, MHA has chosen to expand on its 2018 4Mind4Body Mental Health Month theme with a variety of new tools and materials specifically designed for people living with chronic conditions and the people who care for them.

MHA’s 4Mind4Body theme proved tremendously popular last year, with more than 16,000 organizations downloading our health and wellness toolkit and making it part of their own Mental Health Month messaging. This year MHA has expanded on them with a set of new resources that are best characterized as essential parts of everyone’s recovery toolkit.

As part of our 4Mind4Body theme, the 2019 Mental Health Month toolkit (available at may) explores the topics of spirituality, animal companionship (including pets and support animals), humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness.

“When we talk about health, we have to focus on both physical health and mental health,” says Paul Gionfriddo, MHA president and CEO. “It’s important to see the whole person - and make use of the tools and resources that benefit minds and bodies together.”

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.  It can also help people recover from these conditions.

For those dealing with a chronic health condition and the people who care for them, it can be especially important to focus on mental health. When dealing with dueling diagnoses, focusing on both the physical and mental health concerns can be daunting – but critically important in achieving overall wellness. Humor, spirituality, recreation, animal companionship, and work-life balance are important for everyone, but may be of special importance to people also living with chronic health conditions and those who care for them.

Concluded Gionfriddo, “Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. Finding the balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, physical health and mental health, can help you on the path towards focusing both 4Mind4Body.”

You can learn more about Mental Health Month and download MHA’s 2019 toolkit by going to may.

MHA’s Mental Health Month 2019 toolkit is supported by contributions from Janssen Neuroscience Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.