Mental Health Awareness Month (2019)

This May marks the 70th year that Mental Health Awareness has been celebrated in the United States. Nearly 43 million Americans live with mental illness, but despite these statistics, a reported 57% are not currently receiving any form of treatment. These figures are staggering considering that the rate of adolescents with depression has increased significantly during the last five years. More than 76% of adolescents with severe depression (1.7 million) did not receive access to the treatment that they deserved. These figures are startling, particularly, when at least 50% of adolescents who were screened reported that they consider self-harm or suicide throughout the week.


What is Mental Health Exactly?

Mental health refers to the cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being of an individual. In essence, it is the way that all individuals think, feel, and behave. It is also referred to as a state of psychological wellness determined by one’s ability to balance work, social, and relationship interests in an appropriate manner. In laymen’s terms, if you are alive and have a brain in your head, guess what? You deal with mental health everyday! Research teaches us that everyone has the capacity to develop mental health problems, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, or financial status.

Mental Health Disorders

Some of the more familiar mental health disorders include the following:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Major depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Schizophrenia disorder

Early Clues

If you or someone that you know or love displays any of the following signs in a relatively short period of time, please seek/offer support or resources to determine if additional help may be needed:

  • Isolating or withdrawing from others or activities they once found pleasurable
  • Extreme inability to sleep OR sleeping too much
  • Nonchalance about everything
  • Frequently low energy
  • Excessive drug and/or alcohol use (nicotine included)
  • Inability to complete routine tasks
  • Talking or thinking about harming oneself or others
  • Recurring thoughts or memories
  • Hallucinations
  • Hearing voices

Treatment

Resources and help are available; please do not feel ashamed to seek them when necessary. Two commonly recognized forms of treatment may include psychotherapy and medication; or a combination. Additionally, alternative treatments such as exercise, meditation and mindfulness practice, pet therapy, art/music therapy, etc. may be helpful in alleviating less severe symptoms.

Importance of Awareness

Community support and activism are necessary to help in eradicating the stigma associated with mental health today. Ensuring that appropriate access to medical services and treatment for the millions of individuals living with mental illness is vital to improving our society. Please donate or support a local/state mental health organization near you. Prevention, identification, intervention, and the recovery of someone in need of assistance may depend on it.

Sources: Medical News Today, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Health, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors

Photo Credit: Ian Espinosa on Unsplash, Featured Image – Nathan Crowley

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