Over the years, advocates and healthcare providers have worked tirelessly to eliminate the stigma so often associated with mental health issues. For years, people struggled with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or other mental health issues in silence. Some people didn’t even know what was wrong due to a lack of information.
Others were afraid to reach out for help due to societal pressure and norms. While there is still a long way to go to entirely destigmatize mental health issues, the medical community has come a long way. This month is a time to bring further awareness and ensure everyone receives the help they deserve to live a happy, fulfilled life.
What is Mental Health Awareness Month?
The National Alliance on Mental Health designated May as Mental Health Awareness Month. NAMI is the country’s biggest grassroots organization that focuses solely on creating better lives for those who suffer from mental illnesses. They employ advocacy campaigns, garner public support, and distribute resources to help educate families and individuals impacted by mental illnesses.
This May, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Month is “More Than Enough.” Mental illness can be isolating and challenging, particularly when there is no support system. NAMI aims to ensure safe and secure connectivity for those suffering from mental illnesses. They encourage individuals to write blogs, tell personal stories, upload videos and spread advocacy through social media campaigns. Please visit their website to download resources, graphics, and images to share on social media or with loved ones.
Top Mental Health Issues Impacting Americans
Mental health issues vary and impact people of all ages, socioeconomic statuses, races, and cultures. In the United States, the top mental health issues include –
Depression/Major Depressive Episode – A persistent short or long-term depressive episode that occurs in patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder. 7.8% of the U.S. population have experienced, or are experiencing this condition.
Schizophrenia – A long-term mental disorder that involves a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior. This results in a faulty perception or unconventional actions and speech. Less than 1% of the population suffers from Schizophrenia.
Bipolar Disorder – A mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings ranging between manic and depressive. 2.8% of the population suffers from Bipolar Disorder.
Anxiety Disorders – Differs from occasional feelings of nervousness and includes excessive feelings of anxiety. A range of different disorders is included within the umbrella “Anxiety Disorders.” This is the most common mental health condition in the United States, impacting 19.1% of the population.
Warning Signs of Mental Illness
Symptoms of mental illness will vary, depending on the condition and person. However, NAMI states that the most common signs include -
Feels sad and isolated for longer than 2 weeks
Tries to harm one’s life or makes plans to do so
Out of control risk-engaging behavior that impacts oneself or others
Overpowering fear for no direct reason. Often includes feelings of panic
Significant weight loss or gain
Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
Drug or alcohol abuse
Quick changes in behavior, mood, or appearance
Difficult time staying still or concentrating
Unrealistic worries or fears that interfere with relationships, jobs, and other responsibilities
How to Help Someone or Help Yourself
It’s hard to know what actions to take to help someone who is struggling with a mental health condition. If you are the person suffering, you may feel hopeless, alone, or unsure of what to do. The good news is that help is available, and you are not alone.
People who observe mental health problems in a loved one should first ask some questions. How is the person feeling? What’s going on in their life? Are they o.k.? Do they need to talk to anyone? Make them feel safe and comfortable so they can open up. Don’t lecture them or try to give unwanted advice. Try to understand what they are feeling and how it is impacting their day-to-day life.
Those struggling with a mental health condition can –
Talk to a health care professional or speak with a counselor
Get educated on mental illness or take a mental health education class
Contact the NAMI Helpline at 800-950-6264
If suicidal or in need of more resources, contact SAMHSA’s National Hotline at 800-662-HELP
Visit the Social Work License Map for 60 digital resources on mental health conditions. These are separated by condition, demographics, military status, and more. Please visit socialworklicensemap.com
Contact a counselor at Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 to set up an appointment
Are you struggling with a mental health condition? Do you feel anxious, tired, depressed, or afraid? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at straighttalkcounseling.org. One of our professional counselors would be happy to speak with you.