Maybe it's your classmate or coworker. Maybe it's your best friend. Maybe it's your child. Your mom or your dad. Your favorite aunt. Your favorite uncle. Maybe it's your significant other. Maybe it's you. But mental health affects us all whether it is directly or indirectly. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the statistics show us that mental health cannot be ignored.
One in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year.
One in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
Separate from Mental Health Awareness Month, Congress officially established the first full week in October as Mental Illness Awareness Week. This year’s theme “Together We Care. Together We Share” conveys the power of us coming together in our communities and opening space for people to come together and share their experiences thus further reducing stigma and promoting healing.
The Stigma Persists
Mental health problems affect millions of people all around the world, no matter their age, gender, or how much money they have. Despite its prevalence, the stigma associated with mental illness remains a significant obstacle to getting help. Numerous people experience shame and dread the prospect of being judged if they admit they're going through a tough time mentally. This often makes them suffer in silence. Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) endeavors to combat this stigma by encouraging people to understand and empathize more and by making it okay to talk about mental health without feeling judged.
The Power of Awareness
Awareness is the first step towards change. Without awareness, we remain in denial or ignorant about certain issues. Awareness encourages us to shine a light on issues that require attention. Educational campaigns on mental health are essential because they empower individuals with knowledge, allowing them to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions. When people become aware of an issue, they are more likely to empathize with those affected by it. This empathy can drive support, compassion, and a willingness to take action to address the issue thus reducing the stigma.
Where to go from here
Educate yourselves. Know what to look for and know where to look. One of the main goals of Mental Illness Awareness Week is to teach people about mental health. Raising awareness is the starting point for making a difference, and by sharing the right information and the debunking of myths and misconceptions, we can foster a more supportive atmosphere for those in need of assistance. So, learn about different mental illness by attending any number of workshops or seminars in your local community; often times your local community mental health center or local library are a great place to start. Browse websites like NAMI or SAMHSA for information on mental illness, resources, and events in your area.
It's important to note that mental health awareness and advocacy efforts are not limited to this one week in October. Efforts continue throughout the year as mental health is an ongoing concern that affects millions of people worldwide. If you are wondering, "How can I support Mental Health Awareness Week this October?" we have some tips for you.
Tip #1: Take care of yourself.
At Envision Coaching & Consulting, we encourage engaging in self-nurturing activities to enhance overall well-being. By making a commitment to self-care we normalize wellness. Taking time for relaxation reduces our stress, enhances our productivity, improves our relationships, prevents burnout, and enhances our self-esteem. Even more, it sets an example for others thus improving our communities all around.
Tip #2: Look out for your people.
The "Mental Health Conditions Early Warning Signs & Symptoms," is an invaluable resource to support our loved ones who may be reluctant to ask for help directly or aren't even aware that their mental health is declining. Check in on your loved ones and offer support and encouragement. Show yourself to be an ally.
Tip #3: Address the elephant in the room, head-on.
“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” ~Albus Dumbledore
I'm an avid Harry Potter fan so please forgive the reference. But I hope you see the point. The more we attempt to ignore mental illness, the more feared and stigmatized it becomes. Post about mental health and encourage others to reach out to qualified mental health providers. Openly discussing wellness and mental health without fear helps destigmatize these topics. It normalizes seeking help and encourages those in need to not be afraid to reach out for support when they are experiencing mental health concerns.
Tip #4: Keep a list of resources ready.
I get so excited when I check my email and see that someone has reached out to me with a resource and requests that I share it with you all. This keeps me encouraged that I am not just shouting into the void. Someone out there sees what I am writing and thinks it is valuable enough to share their knowledge. I in turn, get to share it with you. I am hopeful and have faith that this information can and will save someone's life someday. This is why I write. Not just to educate, not just to normalize, but also to save a life. Even if it is only just one. That life is precious to me.
It is with that spirit in mind that I have another resource to share with you all today in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Special thank you to Nomhle Mcunu, Outreach Specialist with South Jersey Recovery.
The Recovery Village is an alcohol and drug rehab with detox located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Their website indicates that they offer medical detox, inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, dual diagnosis, medication assisted treatment, and teletherapy for both addiction and mental health. Their website also indicates their physician led team collaborates to develop an individualized treatment plan while providing a relaxing environment and comfortable rooms to aid in your healing and recovery process. In her email, Ms. Mcunu also provided this article for me to share with my readers to provide more information on their program: https://www.southjerseyrecovery.com/treatment-programs/dual-diagnosis/depression/.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, it's essential to reach out to a mental health professional or a support network for assistance and guidance. If you are unsure where to start and are feeling overwhelmed, please dial 988 and a trained crisis professional will get you pointed in the right direction. Please feel free to share your thoughts or any other organizations local to your area down in the comments below. Please feel free to also post your appreciation to Ms. Nomhle Mcunu; advocates like her help increase visibility of available resources. And as always, please remember. Wherever you are on this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other. Until next time. Happy reading.
"Give light and people will find the way." ~Ella Baker
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