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Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle During Mental Health Awareness Month

PARSIPPANY — Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly and managing stress can go a long way to preventing the onset of mental illness, reducing its impact, and promoting recovery, research shows. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and NewBridge Services is joining with Mental Health America to raise awareness about lifestyle changes that promote mental and physical health.

The #4Mind4Body Challenge urges everyone to make small changes each day this month. First week challenges include making better food choices, adding movement into the day, helping others, reducing stress, sleeping better and being mindful. Click here for additional details.

“A healthy lifestyle, sometimes in combination with counseling and medication, can help people achieve mental health and enjoy fulfilling lives,” NewBridge CEO Robert L. Parker said. “The goal is overall well-being.”

Mental Health Statistics
About 20 percent of adults and children in the U.S. have mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 44.7 million adults had some form of mental illness in 2016. (Young adults, ages 18 to 25 years, had the highest prevalence.) Nearly 10 million of those individuals have a serious mental illness that interferes with their daily routine.

An estimated 15 million children in the U.S. have some form of mental illness, including nearly 5 million with a serious type, according to WebMD. Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75 percent of mental health conditions develop by age 24.

Mental illnesses can affect thinking, mood, and behavior. They include: anxiety disorders like phobias; mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder; behavioral disorders like ADHD; personality disorders, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia; and trauma- and stress-related disorders.

Symptoms of Mental Illness
The severity of mental illness can be reduced through early intervention, and it is possible to prevent serious mental illness, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Warning signs of mental illness, according to NIMH, include:

  • Anger, irritability or aggressiveness
  • Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
  • Increased worry or feeling stressed
  • A need for alcohol or drugs
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain
  • Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
  • Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
  • Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other peopleIf a person has several symptoms, he or she should see a mental health professional, Parker said.

Mental Health America offers free online mental health screening tools to help people determine if they have symptoms of mental illness click here for additional details.

Stigma remains a barrier to people seeking help, Parker noted. Only 43 percent of people with mental illness in 2016 received treatment.

Getting Help
NewBridge offers the public training in both Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid, teaching people to recognize the signs of a mental health crisis and how to effectively respond. Residents interested in taking an eight-hour, evidence-based training can contact NewBridge Services Director of Community Response and Education Mary Vineis Vineis at or (973) 686-2228.

If you or somebody you know needs professional help, contact NewBridge Services at (973) 316-9333 or Since 1963, NewBridge has been bringing balance to people’s lives through counseling, housing and education. Last year alone, NewBridge helped nearly 8,000 children, adults and seniors overcome adversity and live better.

NewBridge Services, a 501c(3) nonprofit, is a premier provider of counseling services, housing and educational programs in northern New Jersey serving nearly 8,000 adults and seniors last year alone. NewBridge treats mental illnesses and addictions; teaches skills for coping with stress, grief and challenging relationships; builds and manages affordable housing; offers school-based programs that teach children and adolescents resiliency skills for healthy emotional development; helps young adults succeed in their education and prepare for careers; and supports seniors so they can remain independent. Throughout its more than 50-year history, NewBridge has remained true to its mission of bringing balance to people’s lives by tracking shifts in communities’ needs and providing innovative, effective programs to meet them.

Frank L. Cahill
Frank L. Cahill
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President of Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
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