Mental illness is a reality for millions of Americans. Mental Health Awareness Month, honored every May in the United States, is a national movement designed to support these individuals and shed light on the reality of mental illness. In May 2022, this movement is more important than ever.
We are in the midst of a mental health crisis in the United States. The number of Americans – adults and youth – battling a mental health condition has been climbing even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. And since its start, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression has increased a notable 25 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
New statistics from Mental Health America now estimate that nearly 50 million American adults – almost 20 percent of the adult population – are experiencing a mental illness today. These statistics do not include the number of young people also suffering. Although national statistics for youth with mental health diagnoses are not fully available, research shows us that:
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults. In 2020, over half (51 percent) of teens in the U.S. reported very frequent thoughts of suicide and self-harm.
- More than one-third (37 percent) of high school students reported poor mental health in the year 2020, according to the CDC.
- About 44 percent of teenagers reported feeling consistently sad or hopeless in the year 2021.
- Over 15 percent of youth (ages 12 to 17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the last year.
What this all means is that mental health struggles surround us. There is a strong possibility that someone you know – a neighbor, friend, family member, colleague, schoolmate – is facing issues with trauma, anxiety, fear, depression, stress, or thoughts of suicide. This only begins the list. There are millions of Americans also struggling with ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorder, and more. You can read about some of the most common mental illnesses here.
However, research shows us that more than half of these individuals do not receive the treatment they need. Many mental illnesses go undiagnosed or ignored. Many people who recognize a problem may not have access to proper help. Others might be hesitant to look, or unsure where to start.
There are many obstacles that prevent people from seeking or accessing mental health treatment. For example, many Americans (and about 11 percent of adults with mental illness) are uninsured. Many more, however, are scared to ask for help, out of fear of what others might think. There is a shadowing stigma around mental illness and those struggling often feel too ashamed or afraid to speak up.
Mental Health Awareness Month helps to provide support for those in need, to encourage others to ask for help, to advocate for policies and access to treatment, and to educate the public about the reality of mental health in our communities. Together, we can help to fight the stigma and help more people recover. Mental illnesses are treatable, manageable conditions with the right support.
“Back to Basics”
Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949 by Mental Health America, a national organization dedicated to promoting the mental health of all. For the month of May, Mental Health America promotes a toolkit full of resources for clinicians, educators, and even families to share. The theme of this year’s toolkit is called, “Back to Basics.” According to the MHA website:
“After the last two years of pandemic living, many people are realizing that stress, isolation, and uncertainty have taken a toll on their well-being. Our goal is to provide foundational knowledge about mental health & mental health conditions and information about what people can do if their mental health is a cause for concern.”
“Together for Mental Health”
Standing with Mental Health America is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. The NAMI also promotes Mental Health Awareness Month through a series of resources and events.
This year, the theme of NAMI’s message is, “Together for Mental Health.” Throughout the month of May 2022, they will work to bring voices together and to amplify the idea that mental health is health. They explain, “Together, we can realize our shared vision of a nation where anyone affected by mental illness can get the appropriate support and quality of care to live healthy, fulfilling lives.”
What Can You Do to Support Mental Health Awareness Month?
You can join the movement and support mental health awareness in a variety of ways. If you would like to become an advocate for those struggling with mental health issues, you can do so by:
- Spreading awareness about the reality of mental illness as a health condition
- Educating others about how to talk about and promote mental health
- Being open to conversations and serving as a support system for those struggling
If you have personally struggled with mental health problems and are in recovery, we also encourage you to share your story. Sharing your story can help shed light on the reality of mental health, and show others that recovery – and finding fulfillment – is possible for them. It can also help other people struggling see that they are not alone.
If you continue to struggle with mental health issues and need support, we encourage you to ask someone you trust – a clinician, a therapist, a friend, a partner – for help. You do not have to suffer in silence. You do not have to go at this alone. There are many resources available to you. If you are unsure where to turn, you can always contact Turnbridge confidentially for guidance. We are a recognized mental health and substance use treatment center for adolescents and young adults.
If you know someone you love is facing a mental health disorder, we also ask you to open up the lines of communication. Ask them questions about how they are feeling and how you can help. Be their advocate and be their shoulder to lean on. Educate yourself on the symptoms of mental illness and the signs that could indicate a person needs professional treatment. Do not hesitate to intervene. Early intervention can be the best thing for your loved one’s life ahead.
No matter where you are or how you are connected to mental health, know that it is a very real and present factor in our lives today. Also know that mental health conditions are very treatable. With professional therapy, support, and treatment, those struggling with mental health issues can go on to live healthy, happy, productive, and fulfilling lives.
For more information, do not hesitate to contact Turnbridge. Call 877-581-1793 today.