When we hear the word health the first thoughts that usually come to mind are related to our physical well-being. With advancements and research dedicated to improving physical health, awareness around mental health can sometimes be forgotten. For example, did you know that the month of May is Mental Health Awareness month?
You’re not alone if you answered no to this question. Many are unaware of the efforts and current initiatives taking place in the mental health community. I believe having frequent discussions is one of the ways we can bring more awareness to the current state of mental health. As part of this effort, I will be featuring content related to this topic for the entire month. It’s my hope that this information provides insight, support, and encouragement to those affected. By coming together we can work towards breaking the silence on mental health.
Research shows that 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health condition, impacting the person and their family. Making the proper diagnosis of these conditions requires professional intervention, as some present similar traits. Early intervention is an essential part of treating someone believed to have a mental health disorder. With early intervention, people are able to receive the proper treatment plan, which may include medication and clinical therapy.
- anxiety disorders
- eating disorders
- addictive behaviors such as OCD and substance abuse
Mental Health Challenges
Living with a mental health condition is challenging due to the psychological struggle and stigma attached. In addition, factors such as judgment and lack of sensitivity are often projected to those who suffer from a mental illness. Being unaware of the complexities of mental disorders and illness leaves those who are diagnosed to be unfairly stigmatized.
They are often misunderstood, feared, judged and even labeled as “crazy”. These views only perpetuate stigmas and mistreatment. As a result, those who suffer from an illness may refuse to seek professional treatment. This can then lead to greater problems for the person such as drug use, imprisonment, and homelessness.
Mental Health Resource Organizations
Being diagnosed with a mental health condition is an overwhelming experience for both the person and their family. One of the first hurdles is to receive the proper diagnosis. The next step involves finding the right support and community who understands the difficulties of living and caring for someone with a mental disorder.
*The following are organizations that address specific mental health issues. These organizations are great resources to use if you’re looking to learn more about mental health, or if you personally need services provided.
NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
NAMI originated in 1979 as a small group of families affected by mental illness, deciding to come together. Today it’s the largest grassroots mental health organization, with the goal of helping to improve the lives of those affected by mental illness. The organization works to help educate and lead mental health efforts throughout communities in the United States.
There are many ways you can become involved and support the efforts of NAMI. One of these ways is by taking the Stigma Free Pledge. By taking this pledge you are helping to eliminate the stigma that goes along with mental health conditions. This helps to create a positive environment for those who need support. Another great cause you can be apart of is joining a local NAMI walk team. This event is held annually and works to bring awareness, support, and funds to help those with mental health conditions.
*For more information visit NAMI and if you or someone you know is in a crisis situation call the hotline at 800-950-6264 or text NAMI to 741741.
American Society For Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 40,000 people dying each year by it. It leaves behind a tremendous loss and often many unanswered questions for family and friends. Despite these devastating facts, suicide remains an extremely important topic that is stigmatized and uncomfortable to talk about. Open and honest discussions must take place in order to save the lives of those who are suffering from suicidal thoughts. With the proper resources and intervention, those in need can begin the road to mental recovery.
The American Society For Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a voluntary organization created in 1987. It brings awareness, research, advocacy, and support to those affected by suicide. Its mission is to not only save lives but to bring hope to those affected by suicide. In its three decades, AFSP has made significant impacts in the prevention, education and government policy regarding suicide.
The organization has worked with members of scientific and clinical communities who conduct research on suicide and the ways to prevent it. Furthermore, there have been public policy changes in the mental health field as a result of AFSP’s efforts. For those looking to be apart of the AFSP mission, you can join any of the local chapters through the organization’s website.
*For more information visit AFSP and for crisis situations call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. In addition, you may also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK 741741.
With the current opioid epidemic affecting various parts of the United States, there is an increase in the need for treatment facilities and counseling for those battling substance addictions. Thousands of families are struggling to find a way to help loved ones overcome their addiction and maintain sobriety.
SAMSHA is an organization created in 1992 by Congress to provide easier access to information related to mental health & substance abuse. The organization has established several strategic initiatives, which it uses to help meet the needs of those affected by mental health and substance abuse issues.
These initiatives have resulted in SAMHSA being able to bring increased public awareness to the significance of behavioral health. Through the research data provided by national surveys, SAMHSA has been able to establish best practices for the prevention and treatment of people suffering from mental health and addiction. There are currently new initiatives, lead by experts in their fields, to discuss the challenges faced in mental health and substance abuse addiction.
*For more information visit samshsa.gov and if you or someone you know needs immediate mental health or substance abuse assistance, you may call the helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
The topic of mental health is especially significant to me because it has affected members of my family. As a result, I offer encouragement and support to those with a mental health diagnosis and their loved ones. As the sibling of someone who battled a severe mental illness, I know the emotional toll it takes on you.
To those diagnosed, please know that you don’t have to suffer in silence. Contact any of the organizations mentioned for help if you’re in a crisis. For those who don’t personally suffer from a mental health disorder, let’s support the people who are battling to make it through each day. Together we can break the stigma and silence on mental health!
Thanks for reading,