You can help with mental health awareness

You can help with mental health awareness

Each May, National Mental Health Awareness Month offers an opportunity to foster hope and conversation. It’s a chance to advocate for the support of critical services, to show commitment and compassion in understanding mental illness, and to reduce the stigmas that discourage people from getting the help they need.

At this time in history, it’s more crucial than ever that we continue the national dialogue that mental health conditions are common and that with the right supports, individuals can and do recover. Every day, individuals with mental illness go to work, pay taxes, run companies, help each other recover, and manage their mental health.

Here are five small things you can do that can make a big difference in the lives of others:

1. Take time to educate yourself about mental illness. Mental health conditions are real and do not discriminate. One in five adults, or 43.8 million Americans, will experience mental illness in a given year. Conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, social status, race, or background.

2. Help bust the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. Individuals living with mental illness are among the most stigmatized in our community. Negative attitudes can lead to rejection and bullying, and can make an individual’s journey of recovery longer and more difficult. Stigma and shame can also result in reluctance to seeking help. In fact, statistics show that last year, nearly 60 percent of adults with a mental illness did not receive mental health services.

3. Recognize mental illness and seek help. When someone breaks a bone or gets a cold, that person seeks medical treatment. Unfortunately, this same support often isn’t offered to those with depression or another mental health condition. Help is available.

4. Talk openly about mental health. Self-advocacy can be extremely powerful, and helps those who are going through similar experiences. It also helps educate the community-at-large. If you know someone who struggles with their mental health, ask how you can help support them. Let them know that you are a resource for their recovery and well-being.

5. Communicate to others that there is help available. There are a number of ways you can get help if you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness. Talk to your doctor, speak with a trusted family member or friend, or visit www.NAMI.org for a list of resources by state.

As a society, we face these challenges relating to mental health each and every day. But, this May, I ask that you join us in these efforts and promote wellness for everyone. It’s time to have the conversation.

Debra M. Paul

Lincoln
Paul is president and CEO of Fellowship Health Resources Inc.