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May Is National Mental Health Month

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Justin Mckibben

Since back in 1949, Mental Health America and other affiliate organizations all over America have led the charge in a collective observance of National Mental Health Month in May by actively reaching out to millions of people in the country to raise awareness, spread information and acknowledge those living with mental health disorders. Using media, local events and mental health screenings these movements take action throughout the month of May to spread the word about mental health as an issue everyone should care about.

As we highlight some of the activities and outreach programs happening this year, we want to challenge everyone to get involved.

#MentalHealthMonth

All together the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has put together a catalog of options to use as part of a social media toolkit to help raise awareness for #MentalHealthMonth. Included in their toolkit is a variety of hashtags, including the others listed below that correlate with the activities they encourage advocates to get involved with, including:

  1. #mentalillnessfeelslike

The official theme for 2016 National Mental Health Month is Life with a Mental Illness calls upon individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and videos. One way to connect with the movement is to:

  • Post on social media with #mentalillnessfeelslike
  • Submit stories or content to MHA anonymously

All posts will be collected and displayed at mentalhealthamerica.net/feelslike.

The idea is to let millions of people everywhere speak their own truth about their experience and perspective. It gives people an opportunity to share their struggles and triumphs, while also raising awareness as to the signs of mental illness to others who may not yet know what they are struggling with.

  1. #StigmaFree

Another way NAMI has helped with pushing for National Mental Health Month is their PSA pledge. In their call to action, they have said it is now time “for all of us to step up and change the conversation.” Found in the PSAs on their website are a few celebrity videos taking the pledge, including:

  • Mayim Bialik, PhD- American Actress/Neuroscientist
  • Torrey DeVitto- American Actress/Musician/Former Fashion Model
  • Clark Gregg- American Actor/Screenwriter/Director

In these videos, the celebrities speak on the stigmatized terms commonly attached to mental illness that are harmful to the people fighting to overcome these conditions, and challenge the viewer to take the pledge to be #stigmafree with instructions on making video pledges for social media.

Petition to Congress

In the wake of years of school and workplace shootings to private family tragedies, more and more people are pushing to take action in effectively recognizing and treatment mental illness in America. Despite the fact that nearly 60 million Americans live with mental illness, there has yet to be a comprehensive mental health bill passed through the United States Congress in 40 years!

NAMI has also helped push a petition demanding the passage of a comprehensive mental health bill this year, with legislation that is intended to:

  • Improve access to mental health services
  • Improve reimbursement for mental health services
  • Improve integration of mental health and physical health
  • Increase funding for mental health research
  • Provide vital early identification and intervention

On the NAMI website the petition is signed every few minutes, adding to tens of thousands of supporters pushing for the government to take innovative action in helping support those struggling with mental illness.

Everyone Makes a Difference

In a nation where 1 in every 5 Americans will be impacted by a mental health condition in their lifetime, there needs to me awareness and support. We are all impacted in one way or another; be it a family member or loved one. According to reports collected by NAMI:

  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences serious mental illness in a given year
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth between 13-18 years old experiences a severe mental disorder at some point
  • 1% of adults in U.S. live with schizophrenia
  • 6% of adults in U.S. live with bipolar disorder
  • 9% of adults in U.S. have at least one major depressive episode in the past year
  • 1% adults in U.S. experience anxiety disorder (including PTSD/OCD)
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition

The fight for better mental health treatment should be especially important to the addict. Out of the 20.2 million adults in America who have experienced a substance abuse disorder, 50.5% had a co-occurring mental illness.

For someone like me who has survived depression, drug addiction and suicide, something like mental health awareness treatment is critical. I know from experience that far too many people will go undiagnosed and untreated, and far too many will lose their fight before they find help.

Bringing education and understanding to shed light on the realities of mental illness and mental health treatment is something we should make a priority, not just one month at a time… but all the time.

Palm Partners understands the importance of mental health treatment when it comes to substance abuse, and dual diagnosis treatment is designed to acknowledge the overlapping nature of these disorders and create the right recovery plan to overcome the disease of addiction and confront issues with mental health. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.

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