May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Every year, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness. More than half of us will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in our lives. With so many people affected, there’s a good chance that you or someone you know has mental health challenges. So why don’t we talk about it more? Mental Health Awareness Month, celebrated in May, is designed to change that.
What is Mental Health?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental health is a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, act, make healthy choices, and relate to others. Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being, and it’s important at every stage of life. In fact, your mental health and your physical health are closely related. People with depression, a mood disorder, are at risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and people with chronic diseases are more at risk for have mental illness.
Why Don’t we Talk About Mental Health?
One of the main reasons people don’t talk about mental health is called stigma. Stigma is a reaction to negative attitudes and beliefs about mental health that makes people feel ashamed for something that is out of their control, and it can keep them from getting the help they need. When people feel ashamed, they don’t want to talk about it. And because people don’t talk about their mental health, many people who are struggling with mental health challenges think they’re alone.
What Can I Do to Raise Mental Health Awareness?
By raising mental health awareness, we help to decrease stigma and make sure people reach out for help when they need to. Here are some ways you can help:
Support a friend or loved one. Check up on the people you care about. Lend an ear, or a shoulder to cry on. Support and encourage them to get the help they need.
Be open with your own challenges. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, or to tell your friends and loved ones. They can’t help you if they don’t know, and the more people talk about it, the more normalized it becomes.
Speak out on social media. Engage with others and with mental help groups for support and education.
Pay attention to your language. Words matter. Don’t use language that is stigmatizing, like “crazy” or “psycho”. That kind of language reinforces negative stereotypes.
Learn more about mental health. The more you know, the more you can help yourself and others. There are many good books and blogs that can help you learn more.
What if I Need Help?
If you need help, don’t suffer in silence. There are organizations that can help.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1(800) 273-TALK. On July 16, 2022, their 3-digit dialing code 988 will be available across the U.S.
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
Written by Cindy Maxim
Resources: Neport Healthcare, CDC, National Institute of Mental Health, NAMI, Psychology Today, National Today
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