National Mental Health Awareness Month

mental health awareness month

Apparently May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. It wasn’t such an easy topic to stumble upon, so we should work on spreading more awareness. LIME green is the color chosen to represent Mental Health. The aim is to have the same success as PINK for Breast cancer awareness and RED DRESS for Heart disease.

Mental Health Awareness Month aims to educate communities about psychological disorders, while reducing the stigma that surrounds them. This month of awareness came about by presidential proclamation (thanks Wikipedia).

Sadly, a good percentage of those who struggle, don’t see it. You can’t fix what you don’t see. But what we can fix is the stigma associated with Mental Illness. The less humiliation, the more likely people are to be open about their feelings and open up about their own mental illnesses.

For many, getting help starts with a conversation. People who believe they may be suffering from a mental health condition should talk about it with someone they trust and consult a health care provider. As a Nation, it is up to all of us to know the signs of mental health issues and lend a hand to those who are struggling. Shame and stigma too often leave people feeling like there is no place to turn. We need to make sure they know that asking for help is not a sign of weakness — it is a sign of strength. (Source)

A Few Facts For the Taking: 

Scientists estimate that one of every four people is affected by mental illness either directly or indirectly.

Even if you or a family member has not experienced mental illness directly, it is very likely that you have known someone who has. Consider the following statistics to get an idea of just how widespread the effects of mental illness are in society:

  • According to recent estimates, approximately 20 percent of Americans, or about one in five people over the age of 18, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.
  • Four of the 10 leading causes of disability—major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder—are mental illnesses.
  • About 3 percent of the population have more than one mental illness at a time.
  • About 5 percent of adults are affected so seriously by mental illness that it interferes with their ability to function in society. These severe and persistent mental illnesses include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, other severe forms of depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Approximately 20 percent of doctor’s appointments are related to anxiety disorders such as panic attacks.
  • Eight million people have depression each year.
  • Two million Americans have schizophrenia disorders, and 300,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

Why have we not launched a public health initiative for mental health? We did for infectious diseases, cancer, alzheimers, polio, leprocy, drugs (remember D.A.R.E?) and the list goes on, my friends.

Below is a great TedTalk given by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman regarding the stigma and lack of awareness of mental illness. It’s definitely worth a watch:

 

Check out this interesting timeline that breaks down the progression and set-backs in mental health. Even though we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go to get our society to see this issue’s importance as it ought to be seen.

Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.

Fact: People with mental health problems are just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work, and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees.

When employees with mental health problems receive effective treatment, it can result in:

  • Lower total medical costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Decreased disability costs

(Source)

I think the biggest thing to remember is that those suffering from mental health difficulties are people too. They’re just like any mentally healthy person, but with more to overcome to get to the same end. They are not below you, you are not better than them. We are all equals with our own life struggles. Respect yourself, your family or friends, or even strangers with a mental illness. It was not their intention in life to be given a chemical imbalance in the brain. They didn’t choose to undertake it, just like anyone with a disease does not choose to be sick. Stop the stigma and raise awareness, starting now.

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<3 amber

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