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May is Mental Health Month

How to understand the risk factors of mental health.

Nashville, Ark. - Since the start of the pandemic, more and more people are talking about mental health. An increasing number of the population are starting to recognize mental health as one important part of an individual’s overall health and well-being, just like physical health. But mental health conditions, resources and conversations can still feel complicated and difficult to comprehend.

Some questions people often have include:

  • Are there common warning signs for mental health conditions or crises?
  • What are the specific factors that can lead to mental health conditions or even crises?
  • What resources are available – and how to decide what’s right for you?

Many people are learning about mental health topics for the first time. Having a widespread understanding of the topic can help you be more informed if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health condition or crisis. Around half of people in the U.S. will meet the conditions for a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their life, so everyone should know what to look out for.

There’s often no one single cause for a mental health condition. Instead, there are many possible risk factors that can influence how likely a person is to experience a mental health condition or how serious the symptoms may be.

According to Mental Health America 2022 Toolkit, some risk factors for mental health conditions include trauma, which can be a one-time event or ongoing; your environment and how it impacts your health and quality of life (also known as social determinants of health like  financial stability and health care access); genetics; brain chemistry; and your habits and lifestyle  such as a lack of sleep.

Of course, understanding the risk factors for a mental health condition can be more difficult when it’s your own mental health. Take time to ask yourself about your thoughts, feelings and behaviors to see if this is part of a pattern that may be caused by a mental health condition.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Have things that used to feel easy started feeling difficult?
  • Does the idea of doing daily tasks like making your bed now feel really hard?
  • Have you lost interest in activities and hobbies you used to enjoy?
  • Do you feel irritated, possibly to the point of lashing out at people you care about?

Our society focuses much more on physical health than mental health, but both are equally  important. If you are concerned about your mental health, there are several options available. You are not alone – help is out there, and recovery is possible. 

It may be hard to talk about your concerns, but simply acknowledging to yourself that you’re  struggling is a big first step. Taking a screen at can help you better understand what you are experiencing and get helpful resources.

After that, consider talking to someone you trust about your results, and seek out a professional to find the support you need. While you may not need this information today, knowing the basics about mental health will mean you’re prepared if you ever need it. Go to for more information on mental health.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture has educational programs designed to help improve overall health. Contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. You may reach me by email

Recipe of the Week

            Don’t let the name of this recipe fool you! It is delicious and is a must try! Connor Bagley, a member of the Show N’Shine 4-H Club won second place in the 4-H Dairy Foods contest held recently.

  • Crust:

    ½ cup butter, melted

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    ¾ cup pecans, finely chopped

    ¼ cup brown sugar

  • Cream Cheese Layer:

    8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

    ½ cup powdered sugar

    2 T. heavy cream

  • Chocolate Layer:

    1 box instant chocolate pudding

    1 box instant chocolate fudge pudding

    1 ¾ cup milk

  • Topping:

    ½ cup heavy cream

    2 T. powdered sugar

    ½ cup pecan halves

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, flour, pecans and brown sugar.

  3. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan and bake until crust begins to brown around edges; 15 to 20 minutes.

  4. Let cool completely.

  5. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese, ½ cup powdered sugar and heavy cream with an electric mixer until smooth.

  6. Spread onto cooled crust.

  7. In a separate bowl, combine the pudding mixes and milk and allow to set 5 minutes.

  8. Spread thickened pudding mixture over the cream cheese mixture and place in refrigerator to chill, at least 4 hours.

  9. Before serving, beat the heavy cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form.

  10. Spread over chocolate pudding layer and top with pecan halves.




By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.