Mental Health Awareness Month: Advocating for Mental Illness

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Approximately 1 out of 5 adults in the U.S. suffer from a mental health condition. Although it is apparent that mental health is a serious and important condition to recognize, there still stands a stigma that stops many individuals from seeking the health care that they need. In an effort to raise awareness around mental health and encourage those who are suffering to reach out for help, Mental Health Awareness Month occurs annually during the month of May.

This year, Mental Health Awareness Month is expanding on last years theme of #4Mind4Body as well as promoting the WhyCare campaign.

Mental Health Statistics

While nearly 450 million people in the world are living with a mental health condition, only two-thirds of them seek treatment. Due to the prevalence of mental illness, it is imperative to provide these individuals with the care they need.

In the U.S:

  • 1.1% of adults live with schizophrenia
  • 2.6% live with bipolar disorder
  • 6.9% have experienced a major depressive episode this year
  • 18.1% suffer from a type of anxiety disorder
  • 50.5% of individuals who suffer from a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental illness

These statistics present serious social consequences as the third most frequent cause of hospitalization is due to mood disorders and more than 90% of people who die by suicide suffer from a mental health condition. In addition, 46% of homeless adults suffer from co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders and nearly 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a mental health condition.

The impacts of mental health on society are vast but can be effectively managed and treated through mental health treatment and self-care.

4Mind4Body

The hashtag 4Mind4Body will be popping up on social media feeds to help educate the public about the importance of maintaining healthy habits and healthy lifestyles in order to achieve better emotional health and well-being. This expresses the idea that health encompasses more than just the body, so individuals should care for their mind and body equally. The human body acts as one unit and studies show that people who have chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or immune disorders are more likely to suffer from a mental health disorder. For example, some mental illnesses such as depression can be dramatically affected by one’s diet.

Healthy lifestyle habits to practice in your daily life that are encouraged by the 4Mind4Body campaign include:

  • Getting 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Limiting intake of sugars, grease, salt, saturated fats, and processed foods
  • Eating well-balanced meals throughout the day
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes each day
  • Avoiding toxic people, conversations, and environments
  • Practicing positive thoughts and positive affirmations
  • Doing mindful meditation
  • Take time for self-care, including doctors visits
  • Avoiding spending excess time on social media and more time with loved ones.

By treating the mind and body as equal parts that make up your whole being can help you live a more stress-free life by balancing your mood and enhancing feelings of well-being.

WhyCare?

A second integral part of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month is the WhyCare campaign. WhyCare presents an opportunity for individuals to share how important it is to care about the relationships we form with others. This aims to provide support for those in mental health treatment as well as the families, caregivers, and loved ones who are affected by mental health. By showing care for and acknowledgment for mental illness, it can help shatter the stigma that surrounds these disorders. Expressing love and care for those who struggle with their mental health is the best way to make people comfortable in reaching out for help by allowing them to know their worth.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is encouraging you to get involved with the WhyCare campaign by sharing your story, expressing how caring for others has impacted you, and what it means to have access to mental health care. Breaking the stigma comes down to reducing the shame people place on those with mental illness. While one person speaking up may not seem like a lot, you never know how many people you can help. Using your voice to advocate for mental health shows others that they are not alone.

Cassidy Webb is an avid writer who advocates spreading awareness around mental health and addiction. Her passion is helping others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.

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