Newsroom > DHHS News Release

May 5, 2010

Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287

Staying Well When You Have a Mental Health Condition

May is Mental Health Month

Note: Sound bites on this topic are available at:

Lincoln - People with a mental health condition may not realize how important their overall health is to their recovery and living their life well.

“Having poor physical health can get in the way and make recovery from a mental illness harder,” said Scot Adams, director of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “Recovery includes the entire person: physical, mental, social and spiritual.”

Here are some things anyone can do to improve their mental health:

Connect With Others. Spending time with positive people you care about can ease stress, help your mood and improve the way you feel overall.

Get a physical. Having regular health check-ups with your healthcare provider can result in early recognition and treatment of many health issues.

Advocate for yourself. All too often, people with mental illnesses develop other health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, because their health is overlooked. Let your doctor know that reviewing your overall health is important to you and essential to your recovery.

Plan your sleep schedule. Not getting the right amount of sleep can make day-to-day functioning and recovery harder.

Watch what you eat. Foods high in calories and fats can raise your blood pressure and cholesterol and increase your chances of gaining weight and having other health problems, like heart disease and diabetes.

Manage stress. If you have a mental illness, lots of stress can make you feel worse and make it harder to function. Take these steps to relieve your stress and feel better:

  • Slow down. Make a list and work on it one task at a time.
  • Know your limits and let others know them, too. Learn how to say “no.”
  • Know your triggers. If you know where stress is coming from, you can manage it better.
  • Talk to someone. A friend, family member, support group or counselor may help you figure out how to better manage stress in your life.

Exercise Regularly. Even light exercise can increase your self-esteem; reduce your feelings of stress, anxiety and depression; improve your sleep; and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Do something you enjoy. Find time to do something you enjoy, even if you can only fit in an occasional 30 minutes.

Go to for research-based, straightforward tools and ways to apply them in everyday life. From relaxation techniques to simple ways to get better sleep and improve eating habits, the materials from Mental Health America offer a wide range of resources to build resiliency and well-being.