Top of Mind: Ending the Stigma around Mental Health

May 1, 2018

When it comes to our health, it can be easy to focus exclusively on physical health – making sure we are staying up to date on annual exams and screenings, committing to a regular exercise routine, eating nutritious foods and the like. But there is another important facet of our health that we should not ignore – our mental health. National Mental Health Month is observed each May to provide a platform for discussing mental health and raising awareness of the important role it plays in our lives.

“Our mental health has a profound impact on our overall well-being,” says Dr. Karen Fox, a psychiatrist at Southern Tennessee Psychiatry from the Southern Dr. Karen Fox Tennessee Medical Group. “It influences how we socialize with others, how productive we are at work, how we make decisions and how we cope with the stresses of everyday life. Our goal at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System is to empower people to prioritize both their physical and mental health so they can lead their best lives.”

Ending the stigma
Mental health conditions are quite common. According to key findings published by Mental Health America, one in five adults has a mental health condition, which equates to more than 40 million Americans. But as common as these conditions are, there has long been a reluctance to openly acknowledge and discuss mental health concerns.

“It is essential to create a safe, supportive and accepting environment where talking about mental health is not only okay, but it is strongly encouraged,” said Fox . “Just as most people wouldn’t think twice about seeing a doctor for chest pain or other serious physical symptoms, it is important that individuals with mental health conditions proactively seek help and get the medical attention they need before their overall health is at risk.”

Contributing factors and early warning signs
Traumatic life experiences, your family’s mental health history and even your brain chemistry and genetic makeup can all adversely affect your mental health. Early warning signs of a mental health condition can include:

  • Excessive or insufficient eating or sleeping
  • Voluntary detachment from people and your usual activities
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Low energy levels
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling “numb” or like nothing matters
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Unusual levels of confusion, anger, worry, fear and forgetfulness
  • Severe mood swings
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or others
  • Thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head

There is hope
Thankfully, the prognosis for mental health conditions is good. In fact, most people who seek treatment for a mental health condition do show improvement. If you are experiencing a mental health issue, the benefits of seeking help and treatment can make a positive difference in your overall quality of life. 

If you think that you or someone you know may be suffering from a mental health condition, we can help. Southern Tennessee Medical Group  offers psychiatric health care. Visit for more information, or call 800-424-DOCS to get connected with the right care that can improve your mental health and enhance your overall well-being.

For more information on mental health, visit