May is Mental Health Awareness Month: How Do You Show Your Support?
Alright people, time for a true confession: I am a counselor both at a school and in an outpatient clinic. I run a middle school girls' empowerment camp, teach yoga and mindfulness, and write posts for a blog about mental health concerns. I preach about healthy brains and I own the bumper sticker that says "Live Your Life Out Loud!". With all of this, I am embarrassed to share that I, Liza Hahn, have a hard time sharing my personal experiences with my mental health. Now just hold on if you’re about ready to yell, "Hypocrite!"
We all know that there is a fine line between airing your own dirty laundry and helping others to hang their own on the outside drying line...
With May being mental health awareness month, it was time to own my stuff.
Yes, I talk to my family and friends about my anxiety and depression. This allows them to understand when I say "I need to take a break" or "It is winter and I am feeling down because my SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is in overdrive." In fact, if I met you at a conference or yoga class and we started chatting, I would probably talk with you about it, too (only if you asked, I try really hard not to overshare).
I have found that talking about your mental health is similar, in ways, to when you get a new car. Let's say you get a Jeep Wrangler and all of a sudden you start to notice everyone else in the world has a Jeep Wrangler, too! When I share my experiences around my anxiety, I have people confide that they have anxiety, or depression, or (insert any other mental health diagnosis). All of a sudden we are in the same canoe and it feels really nice to know you are not alone. But I also notice that just like prairie dogs who will stick their heads out of their holes when they feel safe, when one small threat to this safety (in this case we will use shame, fear, embarrassment, etc.) the furry creatures have disappeared, and once again, I feel alone. It is only in these moments that I have said to myself, "Woman, if you don't start speaking up, even in those scary times, the fear will continue to win."
And that, my friends, means we continue to fight for mental health awareness, treatment, and understanding as a fractured force. Let's become a united front.
The first piece of that is increasing awareness of just how real mental health is and the effect it can have when we do (and don't) pay attention to our needs. Here are just a few statistics from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness):
1 in 5 (46.6 million) adults in the United States experience a mental health condition in a given year.
1 in 25 (11.2 million) adults in the United States experience a serious mental illness in a given year.
Approximately 46.6 million adults in the United States face the reality of managing a mental illness every day.
Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24, but early intervention programs can help.
Up to 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness as revealed by psychological autopsy. 46% of those who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental illness.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. With effective care, suicidal thoughts are treatable, and suicide is preventable.
Individuals with mental health conditions face an average 11-year delay between experiencing symptoms and starting treatment.
Common barriers to treatment include the cost of mental health care and insurance, prejudice and discrimination, and structural barriers like transportation.
Even though most people can experience relief from symptoms and support for their recovery in treatment, less than half of the adults in the United States get the help they need.
Some of these stats may surprise you, some maybe not. The important thing is to keep talking about mental health and normalizing the need to take care of ourselves. Here are some other great sources if you want more information pertaining to mental health:
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Liza, you can reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call our intake line: 608-709-6972
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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]