Every year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. May is Mental Health Month, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and participants across the country help bring awareness to mental health. Each year they fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. Each year, the movement grows stronger. They believe that these issues are important to address all year round, but highlighting these issues during May provides a time for people to come together and display the passion and strength of those working to improve the lives of all Americans whose lives are affected by mental health conditions. 1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime and every American is affected or impacted through their friends and family and can do something to help others. You can help us spread the word, through the many awareness, support and advocacy activities below by showing you’re #IntoMentalHealth on social media.
Mental Health Month: Inspired, Informed, Involved
The theme this year is Into Mental Health: Inspired, Informed, Involved. NAMI offers platforms for people to connect, share their stories, and find inspiration. They also have sample Social Media posts to help you and your family and friends bring awareness to mental health and the international NAMI walks. Utah’s NAMI walk will be in September. 1 in 25 (10 million) adult Americans lives with a serious mental illness. The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90% of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with the right treatments and supports. 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but suicide is preventable. Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough, and the isolation, blame and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support and living well. Learning how to cope with stigma and how to avoid and address stigma are important for all of us. NAMI has an online store where you can buy shirts, phone covers, and more that all promote the stigma free message.
Mental Health Month Helps Break Stigmas
Teaching people about the severity and facts about mental health helps break down the stigma. The more people that know about mental health and understand it the more support people who need help will have. Some people may feel scared or shame to ask for help because of the negative stigma associated with mental health but the truth is they should feel neither. Asking for help and talking about it can actually empower them and open up new doors for them throughout their life. In fact their story could be the inspiration someone else needs to get their own help and find their own voice. Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24, but early intervention programs can help. It’s important for people living with mental health conditions to know that they are not alone. Sharing a story about your personal experiences with mental health challenges can help in your own recovery as well as provide encouragement and support to others with similar experiences. You can make a difference for yourself and others by sharing your experiences and perspective. What has helped? What hasn’t? What has been most discouraging about your condition? What has given you hope? There are all sorts of things you know that other people want to know—you are not alone. Let them know that they aren’t either.
The NAMI walks and other donations all go to helping make a difference in your community and nationally. They provide free support and education classes in over 900 communities nationwide. They participate in awareness events and activities, like Mental Illness Awareness Week, National Mental Health Awareness Month and NAMIWalks to help fight stigma and stereotypes. They advocate on national, state and local levels to promote policies that help people living with mental illness. They promote research so new treatments and early intervention solutions are made a priority. Also, their HelpLine responds to more than 40,000 requests each year, providing resources and information to those in need. If you or someone you know is struggling, you are not alone. There are many supports, services and treatment options that may help. Seek out support groups in your community and educate yourself about symptoms and diagnosis. Social support and knowledge can be valuable tools for coping. There are support groups for those who need help with their own mental health as well as their family members and friends. Together we can get through this. For more information about mental health month and all the topics in this article, visit http://www.nami.org/mentalhealthmonth.
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