Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health is still a stigma around the world. Even though we’re in the 21st century, there are some people who think that there is no such thing as mental illnesses and I believe the reason behind this mindset is their lack of awareness. I’m sure most of us have heard a lot of statements like, “Why is Gen Z so depressed?”, “We didn’t have this ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ concept in our times?”. A ton of statements like that can still be heard, yet we must understand that in previous times, people suffering from any mental health problems were afraid of voicing their concerns because of society’s beliefs. It was taboo, and still, it is in many countries. It was not a topic which people merely discussed, and that’s why spreading awareness about mental health is the need of the hour.
May is the month to raise awareness for those living with mental health issues to help reduce this stigma and show gratitude to the hospitals and all the doctors who provide behavioral health care and help patients find resources available in-country.
Mental Health Awareness Month began in the United States in 1949 and was started by the Mental Health America (MHA) organization (then known as the National Association for Mental Health). Each year in mid-March Mental Health America releases a toolkit of materials to guide preparation for outreach activities during Mental Health Awareness Month. During the month of May, MHA, its affiliates, and other organizations interested in mental health conduct a number of activities that are based on a different theme each year. The main purpose of Mental Health Awareness Month is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses, such as the 18.1% of Americans who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder; the realities of living with these conditions; and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness. It also aims to draw attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses.
As we know, mental health is a conversation that has really has been brought to the forefront over the past year. Many have spent incredible amounts of time alone and isolated, and the pandemic can be stressful and overwhelming. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says dealing with the pandemic and separating from everyone can increase stress and anxiety. This is why the CDC has announced some resources for coping with stress.
In 2021, Mental Health America is providing practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase their resiliency regardless of their personal situation.
The toolkit includes the following topics:
Adapting after trauma and stress
Dealing with anger and frustration
Getting out of thinking traps
Processing big changes
Taking time for yourself
As we’re going through these tough times, here are 3 easy and safe ways to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month.
1. Take care of yourself - When your mental health acts up, go seek the right treatment and make yourself better because, after all, life has much more to offer than just pain and suffering.
2. Take care of your loved ones - Check up on your friends and family. Many times, all we need is a shoulder to cry on and/or an ear to listen. Support and encourage them if they are being treated for any mental problems.
3. Talk about Mental Health - One of the best ways to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month is by talking about it with your peers. The more you talk about it, the more normalized it will become. This is one of the aims of the Month itself as the stigma attached to mental health has led to countless delays in treatment AND research on the matter.
And please seek professional help if needed, it will help you.
Most importantly be kind to yourself. No matter what society tells you, you’re not the one to blame. You’re not at fault, don’t be ashamed to talk about what you’re going through. And if you’re loved ones or even a stranger is going through mental health struggles, stand for them, help them when they need your support, and show empathy whenever you encounter someone who may be experiencing mental illness.
Please prioritize your mental health just as much as your physical health. We can try our best to break this stigma surrounding the topic of mental health by spreading information within our circles of friends and family, and by using our social media platforms.
Be safe and be sure to look out for yourself and those around you this Mental Health Awareness Month!