May is Mental Health Awareness Month

mental health awareness monthHelp fight the mental health stigma

Mental health and physical health are both important to a person’s overall health and wellness. Unfortunately, people with mental health conditions still face stigmas. Because of these stigmas, people may be embarrassed to admit they need the help of a mental health professional. Or they may hide their mental health issues from friends, loved ones, and employers. As a result, they may not get the help they need.

In May, the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America, and other mental health organizations across the country are celebrating Mental Health Awareness month. According to NAMI, “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.” For this reason and more, these organizations want to spread the word that mental health is something that everyone should care about.

The focus of Mental Health America’s 2017 campaign is “Risky Business.” The organization is distributing educational material about the risky behaviors that can be signs of mental health conditions or can contribute to exacerbating mental illness. These may include risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet addiction, excessive spending, marijuana use, and troublesome exercise patterns.

How you can get involved
Both NAMI and Mental Health America are offering toolkits of information to spread the word. You can get involved by taking a Stigma Free pledge, sharing your own story of mental health issues, showing your support on social media, posting fact sheets at your school or workplace, joining a walk-a-thon, or donating money.

The organizations also feature information for people who may be experiencing mental health challenges or concerns. Their websites offer help lines, mental health screening exams, and resources on finding professional help.

Common warning signs
What are some of the warning signs of mental illness? Each person will have his or her own unique symptoms, but NAMI provides a list of some of the common warning signs that may indicate a person is experiencing mental illness:

  • Excessive fear or worry
  • Excessive sadness or feeling low
  • Problems with concentration and confused thinking
  • Extreme mood changes (including uncontrollable “highs” or euphoria)
  • Prolonged irritability or anger
  • Avoidance of social activities and friends
  • Problems with relating to others
  • Changes in sleeping habits/feeling tired all the time
  • Changes in eating habits/always hungry or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Delusions or hallucinations/trouble understanding reality
  • Unable to perceive the changes in one’s own feelings or behavior
  • Abusing substances and other risky decisions
  • Multiple physical complaints with no obvious cause (headaches, stomach aches)
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Unable to carry out the usual daily activities
  • Intense fear of weight gain

Knowing the warning signs can help you realize if you yourself are facing mental health issues. It can also help you understand when a friend or loved one is experiencing changes in their mental health. Remember, there is no shame and nothing to be embarrassed about if you are going through mental health conditions. Seeking help is the right thing to do!

We hope this post has helped to shed light on mental health, and that you take the time this May—and throughout the calendar year—to help raise awareness about the importance of mental health for everyone.


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