The Importance of Mental Health Awareness

I wanted to write a post about mental health awareness month. But I keep having a hard time finding the words. It’s a topic I particularly care about… I’ve been there, touched a pretty dark bottom, and worked hard to rise back up to where I’m today. A healthy place, a balanced place. What really helped me was accepting the part of the journey I was in and asking for help. Being ashamed and afraid of what we feel and go through doesn’t protect us, it protects the false truth we’ve been told about what is acceptable to feel and how to be.

Blake Murphy

Mental illnesses affect 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children each year. People struggling with their mental health may be in your family, live next door, teach your children, work in the next cubicle or sit in the same church pew.

What Exactly is a Mental Illness

Mental illness is a physical illness of the brain that causes disturbances in thinking, behavior, energy or emotion that make it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of life. Research is starting to uncover the complicated causes of these diseases which can include genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, experiencing trauma and/or having another medical condition, like heart disease. The two most common mental health conditions are:

Anxiety Disorders – More than 18% of adults each year struggle with some type of anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (panic attacks), generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias.

Mood Disorders – Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar depression, affect nearly 10% of adults each year and are characterized by difficulties in regulating one’s mood. What You Can Do to Help you can do to help:

  • Showing individuals respect and acceptance removes a significant barrier to successfully coping with their illness. Having people see you as an individual and not as your illness can make the biggest difference for someone who is struggling with their mental health.

  • Advocating within our circles of influence helps ensure these individuals have the same rights and opportunities as other members of your church, school, and community.

  • Learning more about mental health allows us to provide helpful support to those affected in our families and communities.

  • Showing individuals respect and acceptance removes a significant barrier to successfully coping with their illness. Having people see you as an individual and not as your illness can make the biggest difference for someone who is struggling with their mental health.

  • Advocating within our circles of influence helps ensure these individuals have the same rights and opportunities as other members of your church, school, and community.

  • Learning more about mental health allows us to provide helpful support to those affected in our families and communities.

Get Professional Help If You Need It

If you need help with self-care and self-love don’t hesitate to reach out!

If you or someone you know is feeling especially bad or suicidal, get help right away. You can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.

Of course, you don’t have to be in crisis to seek help. Why wait until you’re really suffering? Even if you’re not sure that you’d benefit from help, it can’t hurt to explore the possibility.

A mental health professional can help you:

  • come up with plans for solving problems
  • feel stronger in the face of challenges
  • change behaviors that hold you back
  • look at ways of thinking that affect how you feel
  • heal pains from your past
  • figure out your goals

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