On April 30, 2023, we closed out Counseling Awareness Month. The very next day, May 1st, the switch to green ribbons on various media outlets usher our welcome to Mental Health Awareness Month! May is for Mental Health. Just how important is the back-to-back focus on counseling and mental health?
First, we must understand that mental health is a broad term that encompasses a range of conditions and disorders including anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, disruptive behaviors and dissocial disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, and more. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO, 2019) indicates that 1 in every 8 people, or 970 million people around the world were living with a mental disorder, with anxiety and depressive disorders the most common. So yes, it is just that serious.
During Mental Health Awareness Month 2022, we here at EnvisionCo Blog helped celebrate the theme: "Together for Mental Health" by briefly exploring the humble beginnings of the Mental Health Awareness movement. For a refresher, see our article, "Mental Health Awareness Month." In our article, you will find information and resources listed on MHA website. This year, Mental Health America, which is a non-profit organization, has set the theme for 2023 as "Look around, look within". This theme emphasizes the need for introspection and reflection on how social and physical determinants of health, such as economic status, safety, and other external factors, can influence an individual's mental health. This is a topic EnvisionCo Blog has explored again and again, the interplay and interconnectedness of various wellness dimensions in our overall functioning and wellbeing. Just search the hashtags on our site #EnvironmentalWellness #PhysicalWellness #SocialWellness #EmotionalWellness #FinancialWellness #SpiritualWellness and #IntellectualWellness.
This year, EnvisionCo Blog will be joining in "Look around, look within," by doing just that. Enlisting your help. Last year, we spotlighted 12 different mental health resources. This list provided information both broad and varied including information and supports for LGTBQ+ youth, peer support for trans people run by trans people, helpline for Native Americans, helpline for those escaping domestic violence, physician support, and support for drug free kids. For more details, click here. Nine months after the Mental Health Awareness article was published, I received an email from Jasmine Smith, Recovery Advocate and Internet Activist with The Summitt Wellness Group. Ms. Smith did not mince words. Her purpose: "To ensure People of Color have access to culturally competent mental health resources." Her concern, I had not included any resources specifically pertaining to substance use prevention in the BIPOC community. Wowsers. Certainly, a learning and reflection moment for me.
It just isn't possible to spotlight all organizations for all groups when you go it alone. And I found I didn't have to. Ms. Smith provided a list and respectfully requested that I add it to the existing list. I followed up with her thanking her for her information as it would make a fine addition to the next update.
As I pulled the article up to update, I found that I just couldn't do it. It had nothing to do with my pride or my ego. It felt like an afterthought. I knew that more was required of me. It was in that moment I decided to feature her labor of love, advocacy, and support into its own article spearheading EnvisionCo Blog's celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month 2023.
So, transparent moment here, I cannot take any credit for the list that follows. All credit goes to Jasmine Smith.
This guide offers a list of the top 50 resources to support Black Men who are struggling with addiction or mental illness.
Live Another Day believes in equal access to life-saving mental health and substance use resources. This website provides extensive information on the best resources available.
An excellent resource that features abundant information including mental health and substance use resources specifically for the AAPI (American Asian and Pacific Islander) community.
Even though mental health issues are widespread, individuals may still hesitate to seek assistance due to the societal stigma surrounding mental illness. This stigma may prevent people from seeking necessary treatment and support, leading to harmful outcomes such as heightened isolation, self-injury, and even suicide. Mental Health Awareness Month strives to eliminate these obstacles by encouraging candid discussions about mental health, reducing stigmatization and discrimination, and improving access to resources and treatment alternatives.
There are many ways to promote mental health and wellness during Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond. Here are some suggestions:
Educate yourself about mental health and the different conditions and disorders that fall under this umbrella term. This can help reduce stigma and increase empathy for those who may be struggling.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, speak up and seek help. Don't be afraid to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional.
Practicing self-care is essential for maintaining good mental health. This can include activities such as exercise, meditation, spending time in nature, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy.
If you know someone who is struggling with mental health issues, offer support and encouragement. This can include listening, providing resources, or simply being present.
Advocate for policies and programs that support mental health and wellness. This can include supporting mental health funding, advocating for mental health services in your community, promoting workplace mental health initiatives, or emailing your favorite blogger and raising her level of awareness (after all, iron sharpens iron).
Mental Health Awareness Month provides a crucial opportunity to endorse mental health and well-being, decrease stigma, and enhance access to resources and support. Through self-education, vocalization, self-care, support for others, and activism, we can facilitate the creation of a world where mental health is prioritized, valued, and respected. Let us utilize this month to increase awareness and foster constructive transformation in the realm of mental health by looking around and looking within. I hope that you have found the information provided useful. Please feel free to share your thoughts or any other organizations you know of that I may have missed in the comments below. Please feel free to also post your appreciation to Ms. Jasmine Smith; 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.
"I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones." ~John Peel
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