Mental Health Awareness Month
The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which raises awareness about mental health and mental illness. During Mental Health Awareness Month, physicians, counselors, social workers and the families of those suffering from anxiety, depression, addictions and numerous other mental disorders work to help the general public understand the affects of mental health on society.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2009), 1 in 17 people have a diagnosed mental health condition. Additionally, in these difficult economic times, more Americans are reporting clinical symptoms. According to Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (2009), at the end of 2008, 58% of Americans reported mental health symptoms. This number represents an increase of 22 million more people than the number reported from the beginning of the year. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index provides the authoritative measure of health and wellness in the United States.
A variety of ways to become involved in Mental Health Awareness Month exists. The following are a few suggestions:
- Educate yourself about prevalent mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Learn about the signs and symptoms so you can recognize these symptoms in others. Let your family and friends know you are there to help if you believe they are suffering.
- Become a mental health advocate. Visit the Mental Health America website to learn more.
- Volunteer to answer calls on a suicide hotline. Although you may not be a licensed psychologist or counselor, you can obtain training to help people in despair.
- Volunteer to work at a homeless shelter. Homeless individuals have a high incidence of mental illnesses.
Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
May 8th, 2008 is Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. On Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, communities work to deliver mental health services to children and their families. This year’s theme, Thriving in the Community, illustrates the positive outcomes gained when teens receive needed mental health services. Individuals interested in creating awareness activities can find materials at Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health.
In this struggling economy, more people are suffering from mental health symptoms and many of them feel powerless and without help. Getting involved in Mental Health Awareness Month is one way to contribute to your community.