American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes


May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Identify Signs and Symptoms, Engage in Support

Mental health conditions affect one in five Americans during their lifetimes. Yet fewer than half of people experiencing mental health conditions get help.1 Everyone faces challenges in life that can have an affect on their mental health. During May, the ACS Surgeon Well-Being Program will highlight Mental Health Awareness Month.

Mental health is essential to overall well-being, and many mental health conditions are common and treatable. The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on the mental health of people of all ages, and now more than ever it is critical to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles, which commonly prevents individuals from seeking help. Practical tools are available that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency, regardless of the situations they are dealing with. It is important to accept the situations in life that we cannot change, actively work to process the mental struggles associated with significant changes, manage anger and frustration, recognize when trauma may be affecting your mental health, challenge negative thinking patterns and make time to take care of yourself.

Knowing when to turn to friends, family and co-workers when you are struggling with life’s challenges can help improve your mental health. Living a healthy lifestyle and incorporating mental health tools to thrive may not be easy, but it can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. Seeking professional help when individual efforts to improve your mental health are not working is a sign of strength, not weakness.2

The work of health care professionals, especially surgeons, exposes individuals to additional experiences, environments and triggers that affect mental health. Identifying signs of an issue in yourself and others, along with engaging support, is critical to overall well-being and whole-person development.

Resources for Identifying Mental Health Signs and Symptoms

Tools for Engaging, Seeking, and Offering Support

Additional Resources


  1. National Institute of Mental Health. Statistics. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2021.
  2. Mental Health American. Tools 2 Thrive. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2021.