Life is presenting us with a wealth of opportunities to overcome obstacles. Rising prices, a relentless pandemic, and rancorous politics are generating a tremendous amount of stress.

You probably already know that stress can harm your physical and mental health. More important: Do you know how to protect yourself from it?

For me, activities such as running and family time have been reliable stress relievers. They help me clear my head and stay in the game, no matter what life throws at me. We all need outlets such as this because challenges are unavoidable, and our bodies and minds both deal with them. We ignore that mind-body connection at our peril.

In any given year, 20% of Americans will have a diagnosable mental health condition. That’s one in every five people! And half of us will have a diagnosable mental health condition in our lifetime.

Like any health condition, addressing symptoms as soon as we detect them can help us avoid serious consequences. But on average, there is an 11-year delay between symptom onset and treatment. Eleven years. Can you imagine walking around with a physical injury for that long without having it diagnosed?

When the pain is mental, we often ignore our symptoms and hope others won’t notice them, too. We don’t feel comfortable discussing our depression or anxiety because we’re sure no one can relate to our experience. But while it’s true that not everyone in our world can empathize, there are many people who can, including mental health professionals who can deliver us safely to the other side.

Yes, life can be challenging, but if we feel that it’s out of our control, we’ll want to find out whether it’s a symptom of a mild or serious mental health condition. There is a simple, convenient, and private way to determine whether you or a loved one would benefit from mental health therapy. The nonprofit Mental Health Association has developed an anonymous online mental health screening. You owe it to yourself to check it out.

You may be relieved to discover that you have your stresses under control. But if the screening indicates that professional support would be helpful, don’t be alarmed. Based on the statistics, many of us fall into that category, remember? Just this past year, the demand for Envision Unlimited mental health professionals’ support increased by 25%, so you are not alone. The key to freeing yourself from the grip of a mental illness is to seek effective treatment as soon as possible. In many cases, early intervention has literally saved lives.

Remember: Self-care isn’t selfish. Mental Health Awareness Month reminds us how much our overall wellness relies on our mental health. If you need more information about therapy for you or a loved one, the experts in our Mental Health Department took time out to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions. Click the video below—and feel free to share it so that others can take steps to protect their minds and bodies.