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05 . 14 . 21

Mental Health: Fight the Stigma

By Christa Fitzgerl

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults and one in six youth (aged 6-17 years) experience mental health disorders in the United States every year.

Millions of people are dealing with mental illness. People that you know from the neighborhood, work, church, schools, youth sports, and clubs.  Those you encounter on your way to the store, office, bank, gym, doctor, and activities. Mental illness affects ALL age groups, ethnicities, cultures, genders, and beliefs. You and your loved ones may be experiencing it, firsthand.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY.

That’s the message from NAMI during Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) this May. MHAM is a national movement dedicated to educating people about the misperceptions of mental illness and resources available to support those in need.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
  • Only around 51% of youth (ages 6-17) with a mental health condition receive treatment in a given year
  • The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years

According to NAMI’s website:

“Many people don’t seek treatment or remain unaware that their symptoms could be connected to a mental health condition. People may expect a person with serious mental illness to look visibly different from others, and they may tell someone who doesn’t ‘look ill’ to ‘get over it’ through willpower. These misperceptions add to the challenges of living with a mental health condition.”  

The stigma associated with mental health is a growing concern. So much so that over 200 businesses and nonprofits are uniting with MTV for the inaugural Mental Health Action Day on Thursday, May 20, to encourage people to take action to get help or provide support for those coping with mental illness.

“It’s clear that as Covid-19 upended our daily lives, mental health struggles have skyrocketed, but help-seeking and action for mental health has not kept pace. We need to move beyond awareness and into mental health action,” says Brianna Cayo Cotter, a Senior Vice President at MTV Entertainment Group, which spearheaded the initiative.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, addiction, ADHD, autism or other mental health conditions, you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. A change in behavior or mood might be the first sign that support is needed.

Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step to hope and healing.

Mental Health Resources:

Update on Teen Anxiety and Depression

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mental Health America

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 Sources:

  • “Mental Health Awareness Month.” National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). https://nami.org.
  • “Mental Health By The Numbers.” NAMI. https://nami.org. March 2021
    • Research based on studies by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Department of Justice. March 2021.
  • “Your Journey: Individuals with Mental Illness.” NAMI. https://nami.org.
  • “MTV Tees Up 200 Businesses, Non-Profits For Inaugural Mental Health Action Day,” by Cathy Applefeld Olson. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com. 13 April, 2021.