The World Health Organization describes Mental Health as not just the absence of a mental health disorder. It can be described as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to their community. It encompasses all aspects of our lives including our physical, emotional, cognitive, and social well-being. To provide support and advocacy, the month of May has been determined as a month dedicated to mental health awareness. We shouldn’t allow it to stop there. As therapists, clients, loved ones, and supporters, our advocacy is needed year-round.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults in the United States experience mental health conditions in a given year. They range from mild to severe and can include conditions such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. While they are often invisible, they can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to function in their daily lives. If left untreated, it can lead to difficulties with work, school, and in relationships. Thankfully, there are many effective treatments available and with treatment, those struggling can lead full and productive lives. The prevalence alone is reason enough to advocate year-round. Mental health does not discriminate and affects people of all ages, race, and culture.
Stigma can prevent people from seeking help when they need it. It can lead to discrimination and social isolation. Stigma refers to the negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that society attaches to certain groups of people. It’s often based on ignorance or fear, and it can be perpetuated by the media. It can have a profound impact on the lives of those who experience it, and it can prevent them from achieving their fullest potential. If we want to create a more inclusive society, we need to challenge stigma in all its forms.
So how can you help to keep the spirit of Mental Health Awareness alive year-round? Let’s talk about it! It’s important to break down the myths and misconceptions about mental health and talk openly about these issues. You can help by educating others, advocating for policies that support the cause, and lending your support to others.