May is Mental Health Awareness Month and to kick off our social media presence on Facebook, we’ll be sharing 40 mental health tips and tidbits in the next 40 days beginning on May 1. This year’s Mental Health America theme is “Risky Business.” The organization’s website states, “We believe it’s important to educate people about habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves.” Throughout the month of May we’ll be sharing information on various risk factors like risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet addiction, excessive spending, marijuana use, and troublesome exercise patterns. To support Mental Health America, we aim “to raise awareness of the risks that these types of behaviors present—especially to young people—and help people who may be struggling to detect early warning signs and seek help early, before Stage 4.” So here’s 10 tidbits out of 40 from Mental Health America website we’ll be posting on Facebook to education our followers. Follow us on Facebook! 1. High-risk sexual behavior takes place when a person puts themselves at risk for negative consequences like catching a sexually transmitted infection or disease, or unplanned pregnancy. 2. Some high-risk sexual behaviors include: • Unprotected sexual contact • Multiple sexual partners • Sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol 3. How does compulsive sex affect mental health? • People may neglect responsibilities in pursuit of sexual gratification, causing feelings of guilt and shame. • Compulsive sexual behaviors like excessive porn watching or sex with prostitutes can create unhealthy or unrealistic expectations of what healthy sexual experiences should be like. • People who get sexually transmitted infections or diseases as a result of compulsive sexual activity may feel intense shame and decreased self-esteem. • Feelings of betrayal and anger are common among people whose significant others have lied or kept secrets in order to satisfy their compulsive sexual behaviors. 4. 57% of American adults support the legalization of marijuana. Marijuana use is higher among people with mental illnesses. 5. 69% of American adults believe alcohol is more harmful to health than marijuana. 6. When does marijuana use become a problem? Marijuana use becomes a problem when it interferes with a person’s ability to function in their personal and/or professional lives. In the past year have you: • Used marijuana in large amounts for longer than intended? • Wanted to stop using marijuana, but weren’t successful in attempts to quit? • Spent a great deal of time getting, using, or recovering from marijuana? • Had strong cravings or urges to use? • Failed to perform work, school, or home duties because of marijuana? • Continued use despite it causing problems with relationships? • Stopped participating in activities you used to enjoy because of marijuana use? • Used marijuana in physically dangerous situations (driving, etc.)? • Continued using marijuana despite physical or mental health problems that it has caused or made worse? • Developed a tolerance to marijuana (needed more to get the desired effect)? • Felt withdrawal symptoms when you stopped using marijuana, possibly using again to relieve your discomfort? If you have experienced two or more of the following signs in the past year, you may have Marijuana (cannabis) Use Disorder. 7. Prescription medications are an important part of treating many health issues and are used effectively by millions of people; however, when misused they become the problem instead of the solution. We’ll look at some of the most commonly misused prescription drugs: opioid pain killers, tranquilizers (used for anxiety and muscle spasms), sedatives (used for sleep disorders), and stimulants (used for ADHD and obesity). 8. For starters, What do we mean by “misuse”? Misuse is when a person uses a prescription drug that is not intended for them, or uses a prescription in a way that is different than how the doctor indicated (using larger amounts, taking it more often, or using it for longer than prescribed). 9. How does misusing prescription drugs affect mental health? • Opioid pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives all have the potential to lead to addiction • Prescription drug misuse may cause people to experience symptoms of mental health disorders. These symptoms generally improve after a person stops using the drugs, but may take a month or more to go away completely. • Drugs that slow down or calm people can cause symptoms of depression when misused. If a person goes into withdrawal from these drugs, they are likely to have anxiety. • Drugs that act as stimulants can cause symptoms of psychotic and anxiety disorders when misused. If a person goes into withdrawal, they are likely to have symptoms of major depression. • Opioid pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives may all cause sleep and sexual troubles. 10. Taking a mental health screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, are real, common and treatable. And recovery is possible.