“I MAY Benefit from Treatment.”
Welcome to the third in our four-part series of posts connected to #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth. So far, we’ve discussed the importance of creating an environment where #MentalHealth is taken seriously and a couple of ways one could approach others when concerns arise, such as when someone ignores or is flippant toward the legitimacy of #MentalIllness.
In this post, we’d like to highlight the value in having a whole month to promote #MentalHealthAwareness. Better yet, the United States has another whole week during the first week of October, and another whole day immediately thereafter on October 10th (which is recognized internationally as #WorldMentalHealthDay), in which to spread mental health awareness!
And let’s not forget the various smaller campaigns around specific diagnoses, such as 2020MOM‘s #BlueDotProject, which highlights #MaternalMentalHealth issues, like #postpardum. That’s over 40 days in which we (as family and friends, as a community, as #Meridian, ALL OF US), have a welcomed opportunity to make huge strides in bringing #wellness within everyone’s reach.
Why is mental health awareness so important? “Why Care?” as NAMI would say? Well, let’s set aside the fact 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences a mental health issue, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia because that ratio was derived, one way or another, from a sample of the population. What about those individuals whose mental illness went undetected?
US Population Widget
By one Doctor of Psychology’s estimate, that ratio could be closer to 1 in 2 Americans. That could mean roughly half of us or 164.4 million people may be suffering from a mental illness! The thing is, even among mental health authorities, evaluative standards vary and consensus can wane. However, ongoing sharing of data is bringing us ever closer to definitive benchmarks for both illness and wellness.
The bigger problem rests with the general public being uninformed about mental health at all. A recent survey by Michigan State University found: “32 percent of the respondents couldn’t identify the signs of prescription drug abuse, while less than 50 percent could recognize the signs of anxiety, and the vast majority had no idea how depression is treated.” Clearly, we need to use those 40+ days to educate!
But then what? Why care about educating others about mental health? Some would say ignorance is the driving force behind a “stigma” (which tends to result in disregard), surrounding mental illness. That stigma then wraps back around and compels people to remain ignorant, creating a vicious cycle; in which case, we need to care about combating the stigma during those 40+ days!
And yet, the questions continue. Why care about educating others in order to end the stigma? How is ignorance and stigma truly affecting society? Answer: it’s preventing people from getting help. Lack of understanding about mental illness, moreover, a barrage of misinformation about mental illness via the media, perpetuates confusion and very often fear, which can keep people from being honest with themselves and others.
Informing people about mental health in a textbook fashion, proposing stricter regulations on our media and entertainment, and promoting events encouraging mass social contact between individuals with and without mental health problems are all worthy actions during those 40+ days, but none of it will make a difference if people don’t take a moment to reflect and say, “I MAY benefit from treatment.”
So, to finally answer our question directly, the value in those 40+ days of mental health awareness comes simply from asking others to consider their mental health. In doing so, we end up educating, cutting through stigma, and normalizing mental illness all at once; but ultimately, the goal is to get people the help they may not even know they need.
Mental Health America has a battery of screening tools, testing for mental illnesses as common as anxiety and as rare as schizophrenia. Only a licensed professional can reliably diagnose a mental illness, but these tools are useful in exploring one’s personal mental state and gauging something as seemingly benign as stress. Please contact us (1-800-330-5615) with any questions or concerns after taking these tests.
That concludes another “WellnessWednesday” post. We hope that you will take the time during #ThePowerOfMay, or anytime, but sooner rather than later, to evaluate your mental well-being. Remember, even something as inconsequential as a stiff neck can be a symptom of a deeper ailment. Even if you have no warning signs, if you feel you are not achieving your full potential, treatment could be the thing that gets you there.
To learn more about Meridian’s services, please contact 800-330-5615 and follow the prompts – we do have a 24/7 crisis line; just dial option 1. For general inquiries, you can also send us a message on our “Contact Us” page. Thank you for reading. Please share and be on the lookout for Part 4 in this #ThePowerOfMay series next Wednesday! Take care.