How is your mental health?

By Brittany Banks, LMSW, Taylor Street Primary Care Clinic

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a good time to take stock of your own mental health. I am going to take this opportunity to share some information about mental health, mental illness, and steps you should take to you have concerns about your mental health.

What is mental health?
Mental illness and mental health are not the same! When we say mental health, we are talking about our mental and social well-being.  Mental illness is a diagnosed condition that affects thoughts and behaviors.

What things can affect our mental health?
Diet, exercise, sleep, stress, and loneliness can all affect our mental health. That is why we should eat a healthy diet, exercise, sleep between 6 and 8 hours each night, keep our stress low, have good relationships, and do fun things like play a sport, cook, or garden. Health problems can affect mental health so make sure you see a primary health care provider on a regular basis to maintain your physical health.

What is mental illness?
Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. A mental illness is a diagnosable medical problem like asthma or diabetes. When we have a mental illness, our feelings, thoughts, or behaviors change. They can also cause social problems. Some of the most common mental illnesses are depression and anxiety. Mental illness can affect all of us! It can affect all ages, genders, races, and backgrounds. (APA, 2021) The good news is that mental illnesses can be treated.

Are there warning signs I should pay attention to?
Yes, while each mental illness has its own symptoms, there are some common signs to watch for:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress


How do I know if I need help?
Remember, conditions like depression and anxiety are real! People with a mental illness can also get better! Screening tools can tell us if we are having signs of mental illness. Here is a link to some mental health screening tools for (Self-Help Tools | Mental Health America ( Once you complete the screening, you will get resources and other tools to help you understand your mental health. You should also share your screening results with your doctor or a mental health specialist who can talk to you about ways to feel better (MHA, 2020).

What to do when you need help?
Talk to your primary care provider about your concerns. Recovery from mental illness is possible. There are trained specialists, like me, who can help. Allow myself and the team here at Taylor Street Primary Care Clinic to support you. To make an appointment, call us at 313-486-5501.

Brittany Banks, LMSW, Taylor Street Primary Care Clinic, connecting you to behavioral health services and resources that will improve your overall wellness.