This Mental Health Awareness Month, Prioritize Your Well-Being With Tips from Northern Colorado Experts

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an important time to reflect on the state of mental health and well-being. With the stresses and struggles we all face, it’s normal for our mental health to suffer sometimes. According to the CDC, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. This affects people of all backgrounds and circumstances.

This May, let’s spread the word that mental health matters. This article provides guidance on recognizing common mental health issues, knowing when to seek help for yourself or others, and accessing care and support. With greater awareness and understanding, we can support ourselves and each other through difficult times. We all deserve compassion and care when facing mental health challenges.


​​Common Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues are very common. Here are some of the most prevalent conditions:

Anxiety Disorders  

These involve excessive worrying, nervousness, panic attacks, and fear. Anxiety makes it hard to get through daily life and interferes with sleep, work, and relationships.


Feeling sad, hopeless, worthless, or irritable for weeks or more could indicate clinical depression. Appetite changes, sleep issues, loss of interest in hobbies, and suicidal thoughts often accompany depression.

Bipolar Disorder 

Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, causes mood swings from manic highs to depressive lows. The shifts in mood can be gradual or rapid and often affect energy levels and ability to function.


This condition causes delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, and other cognitive difficulties that impede day-to-day living. The symptoms of schizophrenia typically begin in early adulthood.

Personality Disorders 

These long-term disorders involve inflexible patterns of thinking and relating that differ from social norms and hinder relationships. Borderline, narcissistic, and antisocial personality disorders are examples.

Substance Use Disorder

Marked by an irresistible compulsion to consume substances regardless of detrimental outcomes. It often involves cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and interference with daily activities.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is marked by unwanted, recurring thoughts and repetitive behaviors or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform to reduce anxiety or prevent a dreaded event.

Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders

Trauma and stressor-related disorders arise from direct exposure to a traumatic or stressful event, with symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety that disrupt daily functioning.

Securing a precise diagnosis is crucial for obtaining appropriate treatment and support. Mental health conditions should never be minimized or ignored. Help is available.


Knowing When You Need Help

Mental health issues can often go unrecognized or untreated. Many people are hesitant to seek help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. However, it’s important to pay attention to signs that your mental health may be suffering. Here are some common symptoms that could indicate you need professional support:

Changes in Mood and Thinking

  • Feeling persistently sad, anxious, irritable, or “empty”
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Changes in Behavior

  • Withdrawing from family/friends
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Significant increase or decrease in appetite
  • Dramatic changes in sleep patterns

Unexplained Physical Symptoms

  • Constant fatigue, lack of energy
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Upset stomach, nausea, headaches

If you’ve experienced any combination of these symptoms for more than a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to reach out for help. The longer mental health issues go untreated, the more they can disrupt your daily life. 

Helping a Loved One

It can be very difficult to watch a loved one grapple with mental health issues. While your instinct may be to try to “fix” their problems, one of the most helpful things you can do is listen without judgment. Let them know you care about them and are there for support.

When approaching someone who needs help:

  • Choose a time to talk when you are both calm and not rushed. Express your concern coming from a place of love.
  • Don’t criticize or blame them. Recognize their struggles as an illness, not a personal failing.
  • Ask how you can best support them and respect their boundaries. Don’t try to force help if they aren’t ready.
  • Educate yourself on their condition and treatment options. Don’t make assumptions.
  • Suggest talking to a professional and offer to help make an appointment or go with them.
  • Don’t give up if they refuse help at first. Gently revisit the topic and remind them recovery is possible.


Stigma Around Mental Health

The stigma surrounding mental health issues remains prevalent in our society. Nearly 9 in 10 of Americans believe there is a stigma associated with mental illness, which can prevent them from seeking help. Stigma stems from misunderstanding and false beliefs that mental illness is somehow a personal weakness or character flaw. In reality, mental illnesses are medical conditions that can affect anyone.

The stigma attached to mental health problems often makes people feel ashamed, judged, and reluctant to open up. They may fear discrimination or judgment from friends, family, employers or others. This prevents many from getting the help they need. Even among healthcare providers, stigma has led to inadequate care for those with mental health problems.

We must work to reduce stigma by speaking openly about mental health, educating others, showing compassion, and advocating for equitable treatment. Mental illnesses should be viewed like any other disease – they require proper diagnosis, treatment and support. With greater awareness and acceptance, those struggling can get the care they deserve without fear of stigma. We all have a role to play in creating a society that supports mental well-being for all.


Accessing Care Locally: SummitStone Health Partners

Mental health treatment and support is available right here in our community. SummitStone Health Partners offers comprehensive behavioral health services across Larimer County with various clinics and locations.

What We Offer

SummitStone Health Partners – Offers outpatient mental health and substance use treatment for all ages at clinics in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Estes Park. Services include counseling, psychiatry, crisis services, and more.

If you or someone you care about is struggling, remember: help is readily available. Contact us or connect with a crisis line today to begin your journey toward better mental health. You deserve to feel better.


Types of Mental Health Treatment

Mental health issues are very treatable. Some of the most common treatment options include:


There are multiple forms of therapy that help patients understand their thoughts, feelings and behaviors while developing coping mechanisms for issues like anxiety, depression, and trauma. Therapists work with patients to set goals and make positive changes over time.


Mental health counseling involves working with a licensed counselor or psychologist to understand one’s challenges and learn strategies to improve mental wellbeing. Counseling can take place individually, with family, or in a group setting.


Psychotropic medications are often prescribed by psychiatrists and physicians to help manage symptoms of mental illness. Medications like antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety drugs may be used alone or in conjunction with therapy. 

It’s important to communicate with your doctor to find the appropriate medication and dosage for your needs.

Support Groups

Joining a support group with others going through similar struggles can provide community, accountability, and insight. Support groups for issues like addiction, grief, trauma, and major illnesses are available both in-person and online.

Lifestyle Changes

Improving lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, sleep, and social connection can complement other treatment methods. Making positive changes to support mental health may boost treatment effectiveness.


Crisis and Support Resources

If you or someone you know is in crisis, there are resources available to provide immediate help and support.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 1-800-273-8255. Available 24/7 for free and confidential support.
  • Crisis Help Line – Call (970) 484-4200 ext. 4 ANY TIME, day or night, and you will be immediately connected with someone who can help you identify the best next steps based on your situation.
  • The Trevor Project – Call 1-866-488-7386 for crisis intervention and suicide prevention support for LGBTQ youth.
  • Veterans Crisis Line – Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255.
  • 911 – If someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.


SummitStone Health Partners: Your Partner in Mental Health

At SummitStone Health Partners, we recognize the challenges that come with managing mental health issues, from anxiety and depression to substance use disorders and trauma. If you or someone you care about is facing mental health difficulties, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team of dedicated mental health professionals is committed to providing compassionate, personalized care tailored to each individual’s needs.

Remember, recognizing mental health issues and seeking help is a sign of strength. You’re not alone in this journey. With the right support and strategies, you can overcome these challenges and lead a fulfilling life. Contact SummitStone Health Partners today to start your path to recovery and wellness.