Mental health is essential to our overall health. The global pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined. As a result, a lot of us struggled with our mental health. (1) Now that we are emerging from the pandemic, this mental fallout will take many months from which to recover.
This year, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, designated to raise the awareness that mental illness is a real issue for many people, but help and support are available.
According to the National Council for Behavior Health, one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. One in six U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. And sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.
Mental illness doesn’t only impact one person. It also affects the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of their children, families, and communities. (2) The physical impact is real: statistics tell us that people with serious mental illness have an increased risk for chronic diseases, like diabetes or cancer. Worldwide, depression is the leading cause of disability. (3)
If you have depression, anxiety, or other mental illness, you are not alone.
Depression, a chronic illness that I deal with, makes me feel endlessly tired, or have brain fog. There is the inability to shrug off a persistent dark cloud that seems to follow me. There is often constant guilt or shame for not “doing all the things” because of the stigma that mental illness makes one weak or without willpower. (4)
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is promoting the positive message of “You Are Not Alone” (#NotAlone). People with mental illness should not feel alone or without information, support, and the help they need. No person should feel alone in their struggle or feel shamed or judged for not having it all together. Mental Health Awareness Month needs to be a “time to focus on the healing value of connecting in safe ways, prioritizing mental health and acknowledging that it’s okay to not be okay.”
Tools are available to help
The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of individuals and communities. One such resource is the Mental Health America free tool kit with PDF fact sheets and worksheets on
· Adapting after trauma and stress
· Dealing with anger and frustration
· Getting out of thinking traps
· Processing big changes
· Taking time for yourself
· Radical acceptance
Mental Health America also has an anxiety screening at MHAscreening.org. It’s quick, free, and confidential for someone to assess their mental health and begin to find hope and healing.
NAMI offers helpful education and support resources. You are also encouraged to write to them and share your own personal story about mental illness.
Other posts that may be helpful:
Most importantly, if you feel you have signs of mental illness, don’t think you can power through it or that it will eventually go away. There are medicines and therapy to help you! See your doctor or another medical professional as soon as possible. Tell them all the symptoms and behaviors you are having that aren’t like your normal self.
If you are despondent, in distress
or want to harm yourself,
please get help right away by calling the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
at 1-800 273-TALK (8255) or 911.
(1) MHA | Mental Health America (mhanational.org)
(4) Countering the Social Stigma of Depression – Depression Center – Everyday Health