Mental Health Awareness Month will be observed this coming May, raising awareness & lowering the stigma against mental illnesses and related issues. Mental illnesses such as depression, post-traumatic stress, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can affect 61.5 million American adults in a single year. In addition, 17.1 million kids currently have or have had a mental disorder. Mental Health Month draws attention to the need to properly diagnose, communicate, understand, and strive to live well while seeking positive mental health.
Our youth are never exempt from mental illness. Below are just a few statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
• Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders
in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent.
• Seventy percent of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health
condition and at least 20 percent live with a severe mental illness
• Approximately 60 percent of adults, and almost one-half of youth ages 8 to 15 with
a mental illness received no mental health services in the previous year.
• Mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization
in the U.S. for both youth and adults ages 18 to 44
Mental Health America, the largest national community-based mental health non-profit organization, runs multiple awareness campaigns during May, often times with a different theme each year. Their 2016 theme is “Life with a Mental Illness”. Just one of their many programs will utilize social media to open up channels of communication & reduce stigmas. MHA will call on individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and video by tagging their social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike (or submitting to MHA anonymously).
According to the MHA, “Posting with the hashtag will allow people to speak up about their own experiences, to share their point of view with individuals who may be struggling to explain what they are going through—and help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness. Sharing is the key to breaking down the discrimination and stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and to show others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms.”
In the late 1940′s, the first National Mental Health Awareness Week was launched in the United States. During the 1960′s, this annual, weekly campaign was upgraded to a monthly one with May the designated month.
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