May is National Mental Health Awareness month. This month-long event was started 70 years ago by the National Association for Mental Health, now known as the Mental Health America organization. Their purpose is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses.
This ambitious campaign originally took place during a time when no one talked about mental health. Hidden from view, it wasn’t acknowledged openly within families and seeking treatment often brought shame. Spring forward 40 years, and the changes have been considerable, although, people still find it difficult to talk about or seek treatment for mental health problems. For some, the stigma is still very real.
Here are five important things to take away from this month:
Keep a positive attitude
Attitudes toward mental health can vary among men, women, and cultures. Not everyone will approach the topic as you do. Listen carefully and try to gain perspective.
Talk about it
If you are uncomfortable discussing or disclosing mental health issues, learn about mental health. There are many options available online, in books, or podcasts.
Shame or fear of stigma may keep people from seeking help. As with any physical health disorder, people can’t just “Shake it off.” People should be encouraged to seek care and deserve respect and acceptance.
Learn and educate
The two most common types of mental illness are anxiety disorders and depression. Depression is a leading cause of disability. Both can affect anyone, any age, any race, any gender, and any socio-economic range.
Mental illness does just not affect the individual; many families often play a major role in dealing with a family member or child’s illness. They also need support and understanding.
Remember, mental health awareness should not only be observed one time a year. These resources can help you get educated, inspired, and involved:
- Kids Mental Health.org
- Mental Health America
- Mental Health.gov
- National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI)
- National Institute of Mental Health Suicide Prevention
- The JED Foundation for America’s teens and young adults
Young, L. (2017, May 02). Mental Health Awareness Month 5 things you need to know. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201705/mental-health-awareness-month
Mental Health America http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers