Mental Health Awareness month comes around every year in May; but as far as I’m concerned mental health awareness is EVERY DAY.
Hi, my name is Alicia and I am a mental health patient.
I’ve shared very openly on this blog about my journey with mental health and you can check it out here.
Why I Share
I remember being very young and feeling very isolated by the thoughts in my head. Growing up with anxiety and depression was not easy. I grew up during a time when mental health was not an open discussion in media or within my family dynamic.
Mental health issues were something to be whispered about back in my day. That one aunt or uncle who “wasn’t right in the head”. And that was as far as the conversation went.
I didn’t begin to explore my own mental health needs until I was an adult. I regret waiting so long but I’m certainly glad I finally pursued mental health care. After plenty of hiccups, starts and stops and navigating the mental health care system; I decided that it was a cause worthy of advocating for.
Some Facts & Statistics
As of 2019:
- In the United States, almost half of adults (46.4 percent) will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
- 5 percent of adults (18 or older) experience a mental illness in any one year, equivalent to 43.8 million people.
- Of adults in the United States with any mental disorder in a one-year period, 14.4 percent have one disorder, 5.8 percent have two disorders and 6 percent have three or more.
- Half of all mental disorders begin by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24.
- In the United States, only 41 percent of the people who had a mental disorder in the past year received professional health care or other services.
Beyond the staggering amount of people who will experience mental health illness is the staggering number of people who have not pursued professional health care or services for it.
According to 2019 State of Mental Health in America Report 12.2% (5.3 million) adults with a mental illness remain uninsured, and 56.4% of adults with a mental illness received no treatment. “Over 24 million individuals experiencing a mental health illness are going untreated.”https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america
Mental Health is Everyone’s Problem
Whether you experience mental health illness yourself or know someone who does; mental health is something everyone should be aware of.
Learning about mental health conditions, access to proper care, the types of care leads to a better understanding of a disease that is ravishing communities with no discrimination to ethnicity or economic status. However, those things can determine an individuals access to proper care. Hence, the more we learn, the more we can help ourselves and others.
Knowledge is power, but it is only powerful when we share that knowledge and learn how to respond accordingly.
Mental Illness is Not Shameful
While the effects of mental illness can make us feel ashamed; it is not shameful. Talking about what we feel and experience should not be shrouded in guilt or shame. No one should make anyone dealing with mental illness as if they should be ashamed.
We as a society do not shame a cancer patient or a person with lupus; rather we express compassion and sympathy. The same energy should be poured into those who are struggling to deal with an invisible illness that has a very tangible impact on their lives and relationships.
How Can You Help?
TALK ABOUT IT. Talk about it with your family, your friends, your social media networks. Even if it’s not your problem, sharing accurate and helpful information such as resources, facts about mental health, and stories of others who are coping in a healthy manner can aid in helping someone else!
Don’t dismiss the mental illness experiences of others simply because it’s not what you “believe” or its something you haven’t experienced. Don’t diminish someone else’s truth because the narrative make you uncomfortable.
Be uncomfortable with the lack of fair access in urban and rural communities, be uncomfortable with the ethnic and economic disparities that will prevent proper diagnosis, be uncomfortable with the suicide rate of those who deal with mental illness. Be so uncomfortable that you not only want to be aware but want others to be too.
The Wrap Up
Mental Health Awareness should be more than a month. As highlighted at the outset of this article; awareness should be everyday.
I hope you’ve read this and it encourages you to continue to be a mental health warrior for yourself or someone else.
Until Next Time,