May is Mental Health Awareness Month Published May 26, 2022 By Dr. Stephanie Grant, Director of Psychological Health 144th Fighter Wing Fresno Air National Guard Base, Calif. -- May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great time of year to bring awareness to mental health issues and available resources. Mental health affects all of us. It has a big influence on our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Creating a culture where seeking help is brave will reduce stigma and increase resilience. Paying attention to early warning signs in our own lives and with our fellow wingman is essential to maintaining a ready force. Is your friend going through a tough time? Everybody experiences mental health issues in different ways. Some common signs of distress may include not acting like they normally do, talking about feelings of hopelessness, a loss of interest in the things they used to enjoy, being more reckless, or isolating from family and friends. Talking to your friend about mental health can be scary – but reaching out when you’re feeling down or when you see a friend struggling can make a huge difference. Don’t know what to say? Sometimes mental health discussions can be awkward. Try one of these opening lines to get the conversation started: • Maybe it’s me, but I was wondering if you are all right? • I’ve noticed you’ve been down lately. What’s going on? • Hey, we haven’t talked in a while. How are you? • Seems like you haven’t been yourself lately. What’s up? • I know you are going through some stuff; I’m here for you. No need to be an expert. Just be a friend. It’s hard to know what to say to someone who is struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. These tips should make it easier to talk about mental health. • Keep it casual • Relax: think of it as a chat, not a therapy session • Listen up and let them take the lead • Avoid offering advice or trying to fix their problems • Make yourself available • Be the friend they can rely on Don’t give up! Maybe the first attempt didn’t go so well or maybe they just weren’t ready to talk. Show your friend that you’re there for them no matter what. Stay available and keep checking in. There are many resource specialists here at the Wing available to provide support (DPH, Chaplain, Family Readiness Program Manager, and SARC. Working together we can foster a culture where seeking help is brave and wingman do not suffer alone!