By Bethany R.
So, as many of us know, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. I’ll admit, this is tough topic to talk about for many of us, including me. A little over three years ago I lost someone very dear to me to suicide. At the time, I felt like my world had crashed down around me and I honestly didn’t know how I’d be able to carry on without that person in my life.
To this day, I’d still give anything to go back and spend one more day with that person. However, I can’t change the past. All that I can do is take what I’ve learned from that experience and use it to help others around me who might be struggling. If I can spare someone else from that tragedy, then I’ve done my part.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. are affected by a mental health condition every year. During the first year of COVID, nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. It isn’t just adults who suffer either. Nearly half of all mental illnesses develop by the age of 14.
Thankfully, modern education has made great strides in aiding mental health sufferers and emphasizing the value of mental health was well as physical health. Destigmatizing those who suffer will not only help ease their suffering, but will help educate others in the process. Here are some tips for facing mental health stigma given by Optum.com:
Talk openly about mental health
Educate yourself and others
Be conscious of your language
Encourage equality between physical and mental illness
Show compassion for those with a mental illness
Choose empowerment over shame
Be honest about treatment
Let the media know when they are being stigmatizing
Don’t harbor self-stigma
Becoming aware of the suffering of others and having those “difficult” conversations might be hard at first, but once we push past the stigma, we may realize that we are not alone. Sure, sometimes we might be called unflattering names or be accused of “meddling” in someone else’s business, but take it from me, I’d much rather face accusations or unflattering names than lose another loved one to mental illness.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental Health by the Numbers. Last updated March 2021. Accessed October 1, 2021.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental Health Facts: Children and Teens. Accessed September 1, 2021.