Mental Health Month raises awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives, and to celebrate recovery from mental illness. Mental health is essential for a person’s overall health. Prevention works—treatment is effective and people can recover from mental disorders and live full and productive lives.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have made efforts to increase the importance of understanding mental health problems. These efforts have significantly improved the outlook for those affected by mental illnesses, but there is always more we can do.
We all experience emotional roller-coasters from time to time caused by events in our lives. Mental health conditions go beyond what is considered normal. They are medical conditions that cause changes in how we think, in how we feel and in our mood. Even though it is considered a medical condition, there is still a stigma around mental health issues. People experiencing mental health conditions often face rejection, bullying and even discrimination making their journey to recovery longer and more difficult. Stigma is judging someone based on their mental health.
Those struggling with a mental health condition need our understanding and support to cope and ultimately get better. When we acknowledge mental health as a medical condition, people are more likely to seek the treatment they need. Ways to stamp out stigma include:
- Being open to conversations about mental health. It used to be that cancer was “taboo” to talk about, but through open and honest conversations, cancer became de-stigmatized. The more we talk about mental health conditions, the more normalized it becomes. Starting the conversation is the first step.
- Being compassionate, even if you cannot relate. It is challenging to understand something you have never experienced. And it is easy to think people are exaggerating or making up symptoms for attention, but this mindset is harmful. You never truly know what someone else is going through.
- Supporting other’s struggle and recovery. Tell them that what they are going through is not their fault, they are not alone and that they have options. You can be the support system that starts someone on the path to recovery.
By taking action and raising awareness of mental health conditions, we can break down obstacles and improve the chance of recovery.
Take the Stigma-Free Pledge
We cannot be truly healthy without mental health. Take the pledge and raise awareness. This month, pledge to:
- Learn about mental health—educate myself and others
- See the person not the illness—strive to listen and understand
- Take action—spread the word, raise awareness, make a difference
Learn more from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Let others know that there is hope and understanding. You can change the way the world sees mental health.