In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, this blog post will focus on getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month was started in 1949 and continues to share resources to help people and heal emotional and psychological wounds. Those who are affected by mental illness continue to be treated differently by society and Mental Health Awareness Month continues to fight these perceptions. Mental health can be defined as anything that deals with our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health helps to determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. There are many different factors that can contribute to mental health. These factors include:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 1 in 5 U.S. adults will experience a mental health condition in a lifetime, and even more people will be touched by mental illnesses through family members and friends. This is why it is so important to de-stigmatize mental health, as so many are personally affected or know someone who is affected. Here are some statistics that illustrate just how common mental illness is:
- 1 in 10 young people experience a period of major depression
- 1 in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, or major depression.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for adults and is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-24. Every day in our nation there are an average of over 5,240 suicide attempts by young people grades 7-12.
These numbers are only increasing as people struggle to balance their mental health with the stresses of everyday life. Positive mental health allows people to realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, and work productively. There are several ways you can improve your mental health. First and foremost is receiving professional help. Other ways include:
- Connecting with others
- Getting physically active
- Getting enough sleep
- Developing coping skills
If you are not sure if you or someone you know is living with a mental health concern, experiencing one or more of the following behaviors or feelings can be an early warning sign that there is something deeper going on:
- Change in sleep and eating habits
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried or scared
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Experiencing behavioral concerns that disrupts school, work, or family
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your children or getting to work or school
These signs can be indicative that an individual is struggling, so reaching out is crucial. It is important to ask for help if you or someone you know needs it. The Youth Crisis Center is a wonderful resource to those who are struggling or have questions. Mental illness does not have to be isolating. Youth Crisis Center’s crisis line is open 24/7 for anything you may need, even if it is just to talk.
- Toll Free: 1-877-720-0007
- Local Number: 904-725-6662
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 24 hour crisis center: 1-800-273-TALK
- Text MHA to: 741741
- “NAMI.” NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2017. <https://www.nami.org/mentalhealthmonth>.
- ASPA. “What Is Mental Health?” What Is Mental Health? | MentalHealth.gov. Department of Health and Human Services, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 02 May 2017. <https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health/>.
- “Contact Us.” Mental Health America. N.p., 03 Jan. 2017. Web. 02 May 2017. <http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/contact-us>.
- Youth Suicide Statistics.” Parent Resource Program. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 May 2017. <http://jasonfoundation.com/prp/facts/youth-suicide-statistics/>.