Making Mental Health A Priority

Mental health is a growing concern and an even bigger priority. According to recent studies, one in five American adults experience a mental health issue. However, mental health issues don’t just affect adults, but people of all ages including children and adolescents.


Mental health includes our psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Although, mental health tends to follow significant stigmas, it’s essential to acknowledge the importance of good mental health efforts and to address ways to prioritize mental health.


October 10 is the only global day for mental health awareness. Thousands of individuals and groups gather to bring more attention to mental illness and its effects on individual life, work, family and overall stability of communities and countries.


“Mental health affects how we think, feel, act, make choices, and relate to others,” says Heidi Pritzl, Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Aspirus Health. “It is so important to address our mental health needs, otherwise we may experience implications mentally, physically, or situationally if not treated.”


Here are ways to help prioritize mental health, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.


  • Get regular exercise.  Walking every day can help improve mood and health. Even small amounts of exercise add up.
  • Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks or coffee.
  • Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule and get enough sleep. Limit screen time and light exposure from a phone or computer before bedtime.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, breathing exercises or even journaling.
  • Set goals and priorities. Learn to manage time and listen to one’s body. Try to be mindful of what was accomplished at the end of the day, not what should have been or was unable to be done.
  • Practice gratitude. Remember things to be grateful for daily. Be specific. Write them down at night or mentally remind oneself.
  • Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge negative and unhelpful thoughts.
  • Stay connected. Reach out to friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.

“Many people experience mental health issues, and they might not always show it on the outside,” says Pritzl. “Even though someone may look like they have it all together, it does not mean they do. Most people suffer in silence for fear of stigma. It is so important to stay connected and check in with loved ones and friends.  Next time you see someone struggling with mental health, I encourage you to look at them, listen, tell they are not alone, and offer hope in any form.”


Don’t wait to reach out to someone if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health. Talk about your concerns with your primary care provider, who can refer you to a mental health specialist if needed. For immediate attention call the 24/7 Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988.


Heidi Pritzl, LCSW, MSW sees patients at Aspirus Koller Behavioral Health in Woodruff and Eagle River.