What Happens If I Miss Open Enrollment?

An open enrollment period is a short period of time when you can enroll in or make changes to your employee benefits elections. Possible changes include adding or dropping coverage, adding or removing dependents, or enrolling in benefits for the first time.

Open enrollment is your opportunity to take advantage of important benefits, such as health, vision, dental and life insurance, a health savings account (HSA), and a retirement plan.

The decisions you make during the open enrollment period can have a significant impact on your life and your finances, so it is important to weigh your options carefully and to make your decisions during the open enrollment period.

Failure to comply with your employer’s open enrollment deadline could result in a loss of coverage for you and your loved ones. Missing this deadline also means that you could be unable to make changes or enroll in benefits until the next open enrollment period.

One exception to this rule is if you experience a life-changing qualifying event that would trigger a special enrollment period (SEP). Events such as getting married or divorced, having or adopting children, or losing eligibility for other health coverage can trigger special enrollment rights. In some cases, you can also qualify for special enrollment if you become eligible for a premium assistance subsidy under Medicaid or a state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

If you think you might qualify for a SEP, contact your HR manager. If you have not recently experienced a life event, but have missed the open enrollment deadline, you should also contact your HR manager to find out whether you have any other options.

Options for Obtaining Health Coverage

If you miss your employer’s open enrollment deadline, there are a number of ways in which you can try to obtain health insurance; however, the availability of some options will depend on their enrollment deadlines.

  • Spousal Benefits—If your spouse receives benefits from his or her employer and the open enrollment period is still open (or coming up), you may be able to enroll in coverage through your spouse’s plan.
  • Young Adult Benefits Under a Parent’s Plan—If you are younger than 26 years old, you may be able to be added as a dependent on your parent’s plan. If your parent’s plan offers dependent coverage, this option should be available to all children under 26, regardless of whether or not you are employed, married, have children or are a student. However, this option is likely available only if your parent’s work-based plan offers coverage for family members and if the open enrollment period for that plan has not yet closed.
  • State Insurance Marketplace—Depending on the timing, you can consider buying health insurance from the Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace. Marketplace coverage is only available for purchase during an annual open enrollment period, unless you qualify for a SEP. (See the SEP section of www.healthcare.gov to check). Similar to employer-based plans, a SEP can be triggered if you experience a qualifying life event.

Leaving Home

As fall approaches, many will be sending their child off to live at school. When a child moves out of the home, it can be both exciting and heartbreaking. As one phase of life is ending, another wonderful one begins. However, the danger lurking within the parents’ home and auto insurance, as well as within certain privacy laws, can often be overlooked. Both home and auto policies have limitations that can leave a family vulnerable in terms of its financial wellbeing,  and privacy laws can leave parents in the dark about their child’s physical wellbeing.

If a child is moving out to live with friends, they have, in effect, set up their own household. If a lease is present, it is clear that there is now a separate residence, even if the child is renting a unit owned by the parent.

If a child is in college, they are typically considered part of the household. However, if during college they rent an apartment outside of the dorm system, then they have created a separate household (for insurance purposes).

Addressing these issues will help secure the financial wellbeing and peace of mind for both the parents and the child.

Renters Insurance

While a person at this stage may not own much in the way of personal property, they still have much to lose. Along with personal property such as clothing and furniture, a Renters Policy (HO4) also provides liability protection. For example:

  • While attending a cookout, a Frisbee flies off-course and lands at a person’s feet.  They pick it up to toss it back to the thrower and when they do, the Frisbee misses and slashes someone’s eye. The injured party or their insurance company (health or disability) may come after the person who threw the Frisbee for compensation.
  • While in an apartment, the renter starts a fire which causes significant damage. The roommates, neighbors and landlord may pursue the individual for compensation.

In addition, many leases hold the renter liable and not the landlord. Therefore, if a guest visiting the individual slips, falls, and is injured, for example, the renter can be the responsible party.

For those starting out on a bright career path, they may live in a state where future wages can be garnished. If this is the case, without renters insurance, the liabilities described above could cancel out much of the financial benefits of the bright career.

If parents or a trust financially support the renter, the injured parties might try to get to the parental or trust assets. Renters coverage will place a barrier between the parental assets that can hopefully pay for any liabilities and if there is a trust in play, the trust should be named as an Additional Insured on the renters policy.

Auto Insurance

In Massachusetts, once a child is no longer a resident of the parents’ home, they are no longer covered by the parents’ policy while driving vehicles not owned by their parents.  If the child drives a rental car or a friend’s car, their financial wellbeing is at risk because they have no personal protection.  In this situation, a Named Non-Owned Auto policy in the name of the child would be appropriate. A Named Non-Owned Auto policy is simply an auto policy without an auto listed and therefore has no Comprehensive and Collision coverage. If the child is driving a car provided by the parents, an alternative would be to retitle the car in the child’s name.

If the child is using a parent’s auto for work purposes such as delivery or Uber, it is critical to report this to the insurance carrier. Unreported commercial use can reduce the limits of protection to Massachusetts Statutory limits such as reducing Bodily Injury of Others from $250,000/$250,000 to $20,000/$40,000.

If the child takes the car out of the state, that must be reported as well to preserve the Comprehensive coverage for glass, theft, and vandalism.

 Privacy

Once a person turns eighteen, a parent loses the right to know personal information about their child without the child’s permission. If a child is hospitalized, the hospital is not allowed to reach out to the parents or even share the child’s status with the parents. When a child turns eighteen, parents may wish to discuss with their attorney about obtaining a Health Care Proxy and a Durable Power of Attorney.

Summary

When a child is making their way out of their parents’ home, it can be a dangerous period for the financial wellbeing of both the parents and the child. Insurance agents (and a lawyer), the parents, and the individual leaving home should work closely with one another to make sure everyone is protected appropriately.

Left unaddressed, the financial and emotional ramifications of inadequate coverage and planning can be devastating. Education and communication go a long way in this area, and the good news is that the solutions are not expensive.

 

 

Summer Home Maintenance Tips

Summer is finally here, and it’s a perfect time to catch up on home maintenance tasks, both inside and outside of the house. Putting in a little elbow grease now goes a long way toward future house upkeep–making that well-deserved rest even more enjoyable.

These summer maintenance tips will help keep your home looking great for all seasons:

  • Wash your windows. Wash all interior and exterior windows to let in light and maximize visibility.
  • Check your windows for leaks. Re-caulk the seals on all doors and windows. This practice can increase your home’s energy efficiency.
  • Clean your dryer vent and exhaust duct. Remove any clogged lint and dust from your dryer vent. Doing so can help prevent house fires.
  • Power wash any siding or brick. Get rid of any dust, dirt or mold that makes your home’s exterior look dirty.
  • Repair and repaint your home’s exterior features. Fix any chipped, cracked or faded exterior paint to protect your home from further damage from the elements.
  • Clean your gutters and downspouts. Clean any debris from your home’s gutters and downspouts. This debris can often appear after summer storms and high winds.
  • Clean your outdoor grill. Thoroughly clean your grill to make it ready for summer barbequing.
  • Get your roof inspected. Make your roof last as long as possible by having it checked for loose shingles or other damages and scheduling any required repairs with a qualified professional.
  • Care for your greenery. Inspect your plants and landscaping. Get rid of weeds, overgrowth or dead plants. Freshen up areas by adding new plants where wanted.
  • Inspect your deck or porch. Check outdoor spaces for any necessary upkeep—such as applying sealant or stain, or fixing loose boards.

Seasonal checkups are important for every house’s upkeep. Contact Cleary Insurance, Inc. for more home maintenance information.

Regulations Issued to Implement Ban on Surprise Billing

On July 1, 2021, the Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Treasury (Departments) jointly released interim final rules outlining certain requirements related to surprise billing. These rules implement certain provisions of the No Surprises Act, which is a ban on surprise medical bills effective in 2022 that was enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, signed into law in late 2020.

Surprise Medical Bills
Surprise medical bills occur when patients unexpectedly receive care from out-of-network health care providers. For example, a patient may go to an in-network hospital for treatment, such as surgery or emergency care, but an out-of-network doctor may be involved in the patient’s care. Patients often cannot determine the network status of these providers during treatment in order to avoid the additional charges. In many cases, the patient is not involved in the choice of provider at all.

Overview of the Interim Final Rules
These interim final rules protect participants, beneficiaries and enrollees in group health plans and group and individual health insurance coverage from surprise medical bills when they receive emergency services, non-emergency services from nonparticipating providers at participating facilities, and air ambulance services from nonparticipating providers of air ambulance services, under certain circumstances. Under these provisions, providers will have to work with the group health plan or health insurance issuer to determine the appropriate amount to be paid by the plan or issuer.

The interim final rules generally apply to group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage. However, certain provisions apply to emergency departments, health care providers and facilities, and providers of air ambulance services related to the protections against surprise billing.

Cyber Risks and Liabilities

Ransomware Considerations for Board Members

Organizations of all sizes and sectors are facing increased cybersecurity risks. Specifically, ransomware attacks—which leverage malware to compromise a victim’s data and demand them to make a large payment to recover it—have quickly become a rising threat across industry lines. In fact, recent research found that these types of attacks have surged by 150% in the past year alone, with the average amount paid by victims jumping by over 300%. Such attacks have also become more sophisticated over the years as cybercriminals have developed a wide range of different ransomware-use techniques.

In light of these advancing cyber concerns, it’s important for board members to be actively involved in developing and promoting effective workplace cybersecurity measures—especially as it pertains to ransomware attacks. By involving senior leadership in such initiatives, organizations can foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness and bolster their preparedness against cyber threats. Here are five key questions that board members should discuss to help their organizations stay resilient against ransomware attacks.

How can our organization better detect ransomware threats?

Before a ransomware attack can occur, a cybercriminal has to gain access to their target’s network, systems or data. Once a cybercriminal gains this access, an extended length of time—also known as “dwell time”—typically passes before the ransomware is deployed and the attack actually begins.

With this in mind, organizations that are able to detect potential ransomware threats during dwell time rather than at the onset of an attack can stop such incidents before they even start. The following measures can help board members ensure the earliest possible detection of ransomware concerns within their organizations:

  • Keep updated records of all workplace technology to understand where ransomware threats could arise.
  • Equip all workplace technology with antivirus and malware detection software. Update this software regularly.
  • Have critical technology, systems and data consistently monitored for suspicious activity. Make sure the employees in charge of these monitoring procedures are properly trained to do so.
  • Establish thresholds for when employees should notify senior leadership of ransomware threats.
  • Provide all employees with clear ransomware reporting protocols.

What can our organization do to minimize the damages in the event of a ransomware attack?

When ransomware attacks occur, it’s vital for impacted organizations to do everything they can to limit the damages. In particular, board members should prioritize these procedures:

  • Keep data encrypted. This practice will make it significantly harder for cybercriminals to compromise data during a ransomware attack.
  • Restrict employee access to workplace technology, systems and data. Only allow access on an as-needed basis.
  • Require employees to use proper credentials and multifactor authentication when accessing workplace technology, systems and data.
  • Consider keeping different workplace networks separated to prevent cybercriminals from gaining full access after attacking a single network.

Does our organization have an effective cyber incident response plan in place?

Cyber incident response plans are one of the best tools for helping organizations react appropriately and mitigate losses amid cyberattacks. Board members should work closely with workplace leaders across departments to develop sufficient cyber incident response plans for their organizations. Generally speaking, an effective cyber incident response plan should outline:

  • Who is part of the cyber incident response team (e.g., board members, department leaders, IT professionals, legal experts and HR specialists)
  • What roles and responsibilities each member of the cyber incident response team must uphold during an attack
  • What the organization’s key functions are and how these operations will continue throughout an attack
  • How any critical workplace decisions will be made during an attack
  • When and how stakeholders should be informed of an attack (e.g., employees, customers, shareholders and suppliers)
  • What federal, state and local regulations the organization must follow when responding to an attack (e.g., incident reporting protocols)
  • When and how the organization should seek assistance from additional parties to help recover from an attack (e.g., law enforcement and insurance professionals)
  • Take note that cyber incident response plans should be evaluated and updated regularly to ensure effectiveness. Various activities can be implemented to assess cyber incident response plans—including tabletop exercises and penetration testing.

Does our organization’s cyber incident response plan adequately address ransomware attacks?

Cyber incident response plans should address a wide range of possible attack circumstances. That being said, it’s important for board members to ensure that ransomware attack scenarios are properly accounted for within their cyber incident response plans.

Specifically, board members must determine whether or not their organizations will make ransom payments to cybercriminals—particularly when the compromised data is sensitive in nature or critical to operations. Keep in mind that cybersecurity experts typically advise against complying with ransom demands, seeing as there is a chance that cybercriminals could take the ransom money and not recover the compromised data or leverage it in future attacks.

Further, board members must ensure their organizations are prepared for the lengthy recovery process that often accompanies ransomware attacks. In some cases, it can take several weeks or months to recover compromised data. During this time, board members must have plans for keeping their organizations functional and minimizing reputational damages.

Are all data backup protocols within our organization sufficient in protecting against ransomware threats?

Backing up important data can help organizations maintain access to key files and information during cyber incidents. However, poor data backup protocols can easily be exploited by cybercriminals, subsequently resulting in ransomware attacks. As a result, board members should ensure their organizations follow these data backup security procedures:

  • Conduct data backups on a routine schedule. Consider backing up critical data more frequently.
  • Store data backups offline and in a separate location from other workplace systems and networks.
  • Only allow trusted and qualified employees to perform data backups.

For more risk management guidance, contact us today.

5 Steps to a Midyear Financial Review

Summer is the perfect time for barbeques, but it’s also good opportunity to take the pulse of your saving and spending plan with a midyear financial checkup.

With the first part of the year in the rearview mirror, a quick look at your monthly budget can yield valuable insight into whether you’re on track to meet your 2021 savings goals. It can also help identify areas of waste and provide motivation to set new goals.

  1. Check your retirement contributions. Savers should, at minimum, contribute enough to collect any employer match to which they are entitled, he said. Not doing so leaves free money on the table. Ideally, you should aim to max out your tax-favored retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or IRA, which not only helps to build your future nest egg, but also potentially yields a valuable current-year tax deduction. The annual contribution limit for 401(k) plans is $19,500. The total annual contribution limit for Traditional and Roth IRAs this year is $6,000. (That limit is $26,000 and $7,000 for participants age 50 and older.)
  2. Tackle debt.  Next, review your debt. If your debt level going up, you need to understand what’s happening with your financial situation and correct your spending pattern. Some debt, including student loans and home mortgages, are common and necessary, but credit card balances with double digit interest rates can cripple your budget.
  3. How’s your emergency fund? The mid-year check-up is also an opportune time to be sure your rainy day fund is up to snuff.  Most financial professionals recommend having three to six month’s worth of living expenses set aside in a liquid account, such as a money market fund or savings account.
  4. Monitor your spending.  If your debt level has been stagnant since January or you’re finding it tough to meet your savings goals, put the next lazy day to good use and get your budget under control. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling suggests consumers, track their spending for at least 30 days to get a better sense of where their money is going.  Look for opportunities to liberate cash flow by halting memberships in clubs you don’t use, slashing your cable bill, and swapping one trip per year for a staycation. Most financial professionals recommend saving 10 to 15 percent of your annual salary for retirement. That’s easiest done by “paying yourself first” through automated deferrals at work.
  5. Tackle your taxes.  Most of us only pay attention to taxes in December, when it’s too late to implement many of the most effective tax-saving strategies. If you meet with your tax professional now, however, you can potentially still maximize deductions. Specifically, financial experts and tax professionals routinely suggest taxpayers check their withholding to be sure they’re on track to pay what they owe and nothing more. Look too, for opportunities to maximize charitable deductions,

The year is still young for those who are serious about getting their financial house in order. By examining your finances or working closely with a financial professional, you can potentially use the remaining months of the year to maximize your tax deductions, eliminate debt, and develop a saving and spending plan that will help you meet your financial goals.

Saving for Retirement: Are you Ready?

Presented by: Matt Clayson

It’s Never Too Late to Get Started

Will I have enough money to retire? It’s a common question and one that has increased in magnitude lately — especially for people in their 40s and 50s.

Indeed a MassMutual study in 2018 found that the greatest worry for those on the edge of retirement was not having enough money to enjoy themselves.

This can generate a feeling of frustration. You’ve been working hard for over 20 years. You’ve been saving as much as you can. Then, the market crashes, and your savings disappear. It’s not too late to bounce back. Even if you’re 55 years old and decide that today is the day to begin saving in earnest, you still have time to build up income for retirement.

On your mark, set your priorities, go

Determine what you want out of your retirement…what are your priorities? Sit down with a pen and paper and start a list. Empower yourself to make the important decisions today that will set tomorrow in motion:

  • When do you want to retire?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • What kind of lifestyle do you want to lead?
  • Consider your current lifestyle. Can you cut back to save more for retirement?

These are just some of the questions you should be asking — and answering — yourself. So take the first step and start making some decisions.

Save more, spend less

The most obvious advice still applies: save more, spend less. But there’s more to it than that.

Create a budget to help you stay on track — and actually stick to it. Decide where you can trim your expenses. What can you live without now so you can have more later?

If your budget isn’t working, you may want to consider downsizing to a smaller home or a less expensive location to help maintain your standard of living. This may be a difficult exercise, but remember you’re trying to catch up.

Speaking of catching up, if you will be age 50 or older at the end of the calendar year, you can take advantage of catch-up contribution options to accelerate the growth of your retirement accounts. The bottom line: make the maximum contributions possible to your employer’s retirement plan, including any available catch-up options.

Think outside the box

There are certain financial products and savings instruments that you may not be familiar with, but that may help you get more out of your money. Many people opt to consult a financial professional to help become aware of options and lay out a plan.

Delay retirement (The beach will wait for you)

People are working longer than ever before. Delaying your retirement by three years from age 62 to 65 can boost your assets significantly — thanks to the combination of making extra contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement plan, not taking withdrawals and allowing your funds more time to grow.

In addition, if you anticipate receiving Social Security retirement benefits, it’s important to understand that monthly benefits differ substantially based on when you start receiving them and the filing option you choose. For every year you postpone collecting benefits beyond your full retirement age (typically 66 or 67), you can earn an annual delayed retirement credit of up to 8 percent.

On the flip side, filing for benefits before your full retirement age can permanently reduce your monthly income. Benefits will decrease based on how early you retire..

The bottom line is that there are real steps and strategies you can take today to help secure your future. It’s never too early or too late to evaluate your current retirement savings plan — or create a new one.

This Old House, Needs Some Updates

 

Staring at the same four walls for the past year may have triggered you to start thinking about making some changes. Many of us have taken the opportunity to tackle home projects this past year. In 2020, Farmers Insurance surveyed homeowners and found that 62% of those polled are planning renovation or maintenance on their homes. Of those planning renovations, only 28% said they understand their homeowner’s policy. If you have already completed or are thinking about making changes, here are a few insurance considerations.

  1. Additions
    • Your home insurance provides coverage for the home as it stands today. Increasing square footage, adding a garage or pool increase the value of your home beyond your coverage limits.
  2. Improvements
    • The most common, and costly, improvements are made when updating bathrooms or kitchens. Upgraded finishes such as countertops, cabinets and fixtures may leave a gap in coverage. This is especially important for condo unit-owners. As a unit-owner you may be responsible for any improvements made after the purchase.
  3. Faulty Work
    • Your policy most likely wont supply coverage for faulty work. For instance, if you update your electrical system and down the road it leads to a fire, there may be coverage for damage caused by the fire, but the cost to correct and replace the electrical components would be out of pocket.
    • When choosing a contractor, always request to see their certificate of insurance. Contractors should have coverage for liability, property, and workers compensation. In the event they do not have adequate insurance, you may want to consider a different contractor. If a contractor causes damage to your home, their insurance should be the primary option for recovery.

In summary, its important to ensure you have adequate coverage in place and are clear on the risks that come with home improvement. If you are planning or recently completed a renovation, please contact us to ensure your new investment is adequately protected!

Protect Your Business in a Worsening Pandemic: 3 Things You Need to Know

Over the past year, COVID-19 has totally transformed the way that businesses operate. We’ve weathered the initial storm of uncertainty and ushered in a new normal for risk management. But as the pandemic continues to evolve in 2021, many small business owners are still unsure of the implications for their insurance policies.

You probably have a lot of questions. Are you covered? What happens if you’re not?

To help you navigate this unprecedented landscape, we’re sharing the top three things business owners need to know right now to protect their business.

3 things you need to know about business insurance during the pandemic

 

1. Know That You May Not Be Covered

Don’t assume that your current insurance policy covers all of the possible scenarios that you’re facing today. Some disasters, namely pandemics, are not covered by business interruption insurance. (Learn why this is actually a good thing for policy holders.)

Other types of risks might be newly relevant for your business. Even if there are policies that can cover them, you may not have opted to purchase those policies when they were less likely to affect you. Keep reading for our recommendations on which policies to ask your provider about.

 

2. Know the Three Levels of Risk Mitigation

Even during the best of times, operating a business means taking on risk. Running a business during a global pandemic comes with even more risk. Your insurance provider’s job is to help you assess those risks and mitigate them.

When assessing risk, think about bucketing them into three categories:

  1. Risks from third parties: Movers, cleaners, meeting planners, and many other vendors all expose your business to risk. Make sure that they have proper insurance, and in many instances, name your company as “additionally insured” on their
  2. Risks that don’t require coverage: You might be surprised to hear an insurance provider tell you not to get a policy, but we believe that businesses should only pay for the coverage they need. Take a closer look at these three policies to see if they’re necessary for your company or not.
  3. Risks that require coverage: This is the bulk of risk inherent in doing business. But think beyond simple liability insurance.  Consider other exposures, such as mistakes (errors and omissions) and an umbrella policy to better cover all your liabilities.  More on this below.

 

3. How Can I Get Covered?

Take these questions to your insurance broker and find out if you’re covered. If your current policy doesn’t cover you, they can help you identify the best way to mitigate your risk.

Business Interruption Insurance

If your business needs to shut down at any point during the pandemic, you need to know what is and isn’t covered by your insurance policies.

  • Do you have business interruption insurance?
  • If you do, do you know what is included? Keep in mind that you most likely will not be covered for pandemic-related losses. For a refresher on what is typically covered by these policies, check out our recent blog on business interruption insurance 101.

If you don’t have business interruption insurance, consider getting it. Fires and floods are much more likely to happen than another pandemic, so it’s wise to be prepared for these more commonplace disasters.

General Liability

When you originally set up your general liability policies, your business’s operations likely looked very different than they do today. We recommend taking another look at your business liability insurance to ensure it covers the risks you’re experiencing today.

  • Do your general liability and workers compensation policies cover employees when they’re working from their homes?
  • Are you taking on any extra cybersecurity risks when your employees are conducting business online, on their home wifi networks?

Health Claims

The pandemic is first and foremost a health crisis, so your employees’ health should be top of mind. Take a closer look at your health insurance policies and make sure to address the following questions:

  • Do you have short term / long term disability insurance? Does it adequately cover your employees’ welfare? Does it reduce risks and costs for the business?
  • If your employees test positive for COVID-19 and need to take sick leave, is that covered under your current policy?
  • If COVID-related leave is not covered, what sort of risks will you be taking on? What will it cost you? Are you at risk for lawsuits?

Errors and Omissions

Errors and omissions policies are a type of professional liability insurance that protects your business against lawsuits for negligence or mistakes in client work. With employees working from home instead of the office, many of the oversights against mistakes may be harder to administer. It’s best to take the extra step and mitigate this risk.

  • Do you have an errors and omissions policy?
  • Does it cover you when employees are working remotely?
  • What kind of mistakes are covered? What is unique to your business?

Umbrella Policy

Commercial umbrella insurance policies supplement your other liability coverage. If you go over your coverage limit, your umbrella insurance policy will kick in to make up the difference. Having this extra layer of coverage can protect you from large lawsuits or scenarios where multiple claims exhaust your base policy’s limits.

  • Do you have an umbrella policy?
  • What is included in the umbrella policy? What is excluded?
  • What is your umbrella limit? Are you carrying the right amount of coverage?

 

Cleary Insurance is committed to helping small businesses identify, offload, and mitigate risks. If you’d like to speak with a representative, we can help you find exactly the right level of commercial insurance coverage for your business needs during the pandemic and beyond.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

2020 has been a long year. COVID has changed our family & social landscape, Old man winter is settling in, days are shorter, nights are longer and this time of year carries its own stresses for many. Mental health and wellness should be a top priority and many people may not realize the signs and maybe uncertain where to get help.
What is mental health?
Your mental well-being includes how you think, act and feel. It also helps you cope with stress, relate to others and make decisions. Mental well-being includes mental health, but goes far beyond treating mental illness. For example, you could go through a period of poor mental health but not necessarily have a diagnosable mental illness. And your mental health can change over time, depending on factors such as your workload, stress and work-life balance.
What is mental illness?
Mental illness refers to a variety of conditions that affect your mood or behavior, feelings or thinking. Mental illnesses can occur occasionally, while others are chronic and long-lasting. Common mental illnesses include anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 1 in 5 U.S. adults will experience a mental illness in any given year, and more than 50% will experience mental illness at some point in their life.
Why is mental well-being important?
Mental health is extremely important and doesn’t just affect the mind, but can also have affects on your physical well being causing weight gain, heart attack or stroke. Because it’s such a crucial component of your health, it’s important to focus on maintaining or improving your mental health. While it’s not always easy, there are ways to help improve your mental health. Here are three simple ways to do so every day:
  1. Express gratitude. Taking five minutes a day to write down the things that you are grateful for has been proven to lower stress levels and can help you change your mindset from negative to positive.
  2. Get exercise. You probably hear all the time how beneficial exercise is to your overall health, but it’s true. Exercising can improve brain function, reduce anxiety and improve your self-image.
  3. Get a good night’s sleep. Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep a night to improve your mental health.
If you or someone you know is feeling off, not like yourself/themself or sad please know that you are not alone. There are resources available to you. You should contact your primary care physician for guidance or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline which is available 24/7/365.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
website: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org