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Stressed? Depressed? Help is at hand


Stressed? Depressed? Help is at hand.

We all know it’s important to care for our health—eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. Healthy habits positively influence how we feel and how our bodies function.

But good health involves not only caring for your body, but also your mind. In fact, your mental health is integral to your overall health. Far too many Americans fail to consider this important factor in their health choices, yet overall health and wellness are not possible without it.

This May is Mental Health Month, and the Center for Healthy Living wants to raise awareness of tips and resources that promote good mental health. These include building social support, eating with your mental health in mind, recognizing the signs of stress and knowing when to reach out for help.

“We’ve learned things we can do to reduce our risk of heart disease and other illnesses,” says Sara Primeau, employee assistance counselor at the Center for Healthy Living. “Now we need to learn more about how to protect our mental health in tough times and improve our mental well-being throughout our lives.”

Simply put, mental health is the ability to cope with daily life and the challenges it brings. When you have “good” mental health, you deal better with what comes your way. By contrast, “poor” mental health—such as feeling overwhelmed by stress —can make even day-to-day life difficult.

Poor mental health can also significantly harm your physical health. Research shows that stress is linked closely to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. Research also shows that people who feel depressed or chronically stressed may have a greater risk of physical illnesses.

If you feel you could benefit from mental health support, the Employee Assistance counseling services at the Center for Healthy Living are a good place to begin.

“All Employee Assistance services are confidential and free of charge to benefits-eligible faculty and staff,” says Primeau.

Mental health services outside the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) are eligible under the Purdue medical plans. If you haven’t yet met your deductible, remember that you can use your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) debit card to pay for your services. “If we refer you to an agency or another resource, we’ll discuss your costs with you on an individual basis,” says Primeau.

A healthy lifestyle can help prevent the onset or worsening of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems. It can also help people recover from these conditions.

“We have lots of healthy choices we can adopt to promote and strengthen mental health, and in turn, our overall health and well-being,” says Primeau.

For more information on EAP services, check out the following:

  • West Lafayette: Center for Healthy Living, call 49-40111 or go to the center’s website
  • Calumet: New Avenues Employee Assistance Program, call 800-731-6501
  • Fort Wayne: William C. Weber & Associates, Inc., call 800-729-3971
  • North Central: New Avenues Employee Assistance Program, call 800-731-6501
For information about mental health coverage under Purdue’s medical plans, contact the HR Service Center at 49-42222, or HR Help. HR Help is a secure Web system that safeguards messages sent between you and Human Resources. It protects your privacy at a higher level than ordinary email can.

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