May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Boyle County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

Millions of Americans live with a mental health condition. In fact, it is estimated that one in five Americans will be affected by a mental health condition at some point in their lives. That means that every American will be impacted in some way, either personally or through friends and family members.

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There is still a negative view of mental health problems in this country. There’s a very negative stigma, even right here in Boyle County. This stigma can get in the way of people seeking help or treatment. Stigma can cause shame and silence.

But there is good news. Stigma is 100 percent curable. Each of us can help change the way the world sees mental health. We can all work to replace stigma with hope. We can show compassion and understanding.

Here are some ideas to share during Mental Health Awareness Month and throughout the year:

• Encourage people to learn about mental health issues. Everyone seems to know a little bit about mental health issues, but often, we do not know all the facts. The more we learn about mental health issues, the more we can help educate others. Mental health issues are not the result of a person’s lack of character. They are not always a result of a bad childhood. There are many myths about mental health issues that cause stigma. When we learn the facts, we can help others dispel false ideas about mental health conditions.

• See the person and not the illness. Each person who is living with a mental health condition has their own story. They have each been on a difficult journey that says more about them than their diagnosis. We need to learn more than just their condition or what they are going through. We need to treat them with kindness and dignity. We need to offer empathy. We need to see that no two people are exactly alike — even if they have the same mental health condition.

• Take action on mental health issues in our communities. Our mental health-care systems are in crisis. There is a lack of funding, lack of qualified staff and lack of programs and resources in many communities. As a result, treatment and recovery might seem out of reach for many people who need help. We can help in many ways. We can push for better legislation and policies to improve lives for everyone. We can talk about it to increase awareness and show that this problem cannot be ignored. We can lend our support to show this cause is important and desperately needed by millions of Americans.

• Use social media. Social media can be used to reduce stigma and help people get needed support. You can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more to share facts and understanding. We can spread kindness and encourage people to seek needed supports. The National Alliance on Mental Illness uses hashtags such as #CureStigma to help spread awareness and hope.

We all have our issues, we all say we want to help. Learn more about mental health and reduce the stigma that surrounds it. Seeking help for mental health issues isn’t something to be embarrassed about, it should be embraced. Support a friend, make a call, be a listening ear. Together we can make a difference.

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