As you know, the plight to destigmatize mental illness is one that is close to my heart. Far too frequently, mental illness in America goes undiscussed and untreated because of the stigma attached to it. The fact that this is still the case in 2016 is simply unacceptable, which is why I’m so pleased to spread the word that May is Mental Health Awareness Month here in the United States.
Why do we need a whole month devoted to raising awareness about mental health disorders, you ask? Well, just have a look at these statistics from NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness):
- 1 in 4 adults in the United States will experience mental illness in a given year
- 18.1% of adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder
- Of the 20.2 million adults who are in the grips of a substance addiction, over 50% (50.2%, to be exact) also have an underlying mental illness
- An estimated 46% of homeless adults in the US have a severe mental illness
- Mood disorders are the 3rd most common cause of hospitalization in the US for adults aged 18-44
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in people aged 15-24
- More than 90% of children who die by suicide had a mental health condition that preceded it
In light of the fact that 1 in 4 adults will suffer from a mental illness in any one given year, it is bizarre that we still live in a society where a person cannot disclose mental illness to an employer without fear of being fired – a society in which sufferers are still looked down on as being ‘crazy’ instead of what they are: chronically ill. The truth is, mental illness is just like any other chronic disease – with maintenance, support, and the right healthcare provider, it can be controlled and managed. This is why it’s so crucial that we reframe how we discuss mental illness, and why the existence of National Mental Health Month is so important.
If you, like me, are passionate about putting an end to the archaic way we treat our mentally ill, then you should check out the NAMI website, which lists all of the different ways that you can contribute to the cause both this month and throughout the year. Some ways you can help include volunteering, changing your social media profile photos to the green ribbon that represents Mental Health Awareness, and taking the NAMI anti-Stigma pledge, which is a commitment to educating others about Mental Health in the hope of dispelling misinformation that undermines our progress as a society. Together, we can make a difference.