Mental Health Awareness Month
By: Ashlei Lien, MS, LMFT
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about mental health and breaking the stigma that often surrounds it. It is a time where we can take a closer look at our likes and recognize the importance of mental health and the impact it has on our lives.
One of the key messages of Mental Health Awareness Month is that mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental health disorders are common and affect people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults, or about 7.1% of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (National Institute of Mental Health “Major Depression”, 2017). Anxiety disorder is the most common mental illness in the US affecting 40 million adults (19.1% of the population) age 18 and older every year (adaa.org). Mental health struggles and disorders can be caused by a variety of factors such as genetics, trauma, stress, and lifestyle choices.
Often, we wait until we are feeling very unwell before we reach out for help. Sometimes it is being unaware of the signs of mental health struggles or problems. As a therapist, who has been servicing the wonderful people of California for over a decade, my clients often share that they wish they knew what to look for, what signs they needed to notice so they could’ve gotten help sooner. Some common signs of mental health challenges include feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes in sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, and changes in appetite. Other signs include changes in mood, productivity, and feelings of being overwhelmed. Symptoms aside, if you or someone you know doesn’t feel like themselves then it can be important to speak to a professional.
Mental Health Awareness Month is also a time to break the stigma that often surrounds mental health. Many people feel ashamed or embarrassed about their mental health problems and are afraid to seek help. It is important to remember that mental health problems are not a sign of weakness, and that seeking help is a sign of strength. To help break the stigma surrounding mental health, we can talk openly and honestly about mental health problems. We can share our experiences and encourage others to seek help if they need it. We can also educate ourselves and others about mental health and the impact it has on our lives. The more we share, the more we work to eliminate the stigma together.
In conclusion, Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to raise awareness about mental health and break the stigma surrounding it. It is important to recognize the signs of mental health problems and seek help if necessary. By talking openly and honestly about mental health, we can help reduce the stigma and encourage others to seek help if they need it.