May is Mental Health Awareness Month
by Dave Hamolsky
May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
SAMHSA’s theme for the month is “Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health”.
Mental Health America’s theme is “Life with a Mental Illness: Learn about it. Act. Share”.
My theme for the month is “Declare War on Stigma in all its forms!”
“Social stigma is the extreme disapproval of (or discontent with) a person or group on socially characteristic grounds that are perceived, and serve to distinguish them, from other members of a society. Stigma may then be affixed to such a person, by the greater society, who differs from their cultural norms.” (Wikepedia, 2016)
In America when we really want to get serious about addressing a problem we “declare war”. For example, the War on Poverty (President Lyndon Johnson, 1964), the War on Drugs (President Richard Nixon, 1971), and the War on Cancer (President Richard Nixon, 1971) are historical “wars” that “we” continue to fight to this day. We seem to understand that when we wage war it is of great importance because people die or get seriously injured, countries are ravaged, cities and communities are destroyed, and families are torn apart. Recognizing the seriousness of war, we apply this intensity, the focus, the determination, and the resources to addressing social problems. We not only recognize the importance of “fighting” the problem, we also understand that it requires the coordination and energies of ALL OF US to “win” the war. There is also the suggestion that we will NEVER GIVE UP until the war is won.
Recent Findings from the 2006 HealthStyles Survey:
- Only around one-quarter of young adults between the ages of 18-24 believe that a person with mental illness can eventually recover.
- Only 42 percent of Americans believe that a person with mental illness can be as successful at work as others.
- Only a little more than half (54%) of young adults who know someone with a mental illness believe that treatment can help people with mental illnesses lead normal lives.
- Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that people with mental illnesses are not to blame for their conditions (84%), only about one in four (26%) agrees that people are generally caring and sympathetic toward individuals with mental illnesses.
What can you do?
#1 – LEARN: Learn as much as you can about mental health, substance use, and stigma.
#2 – TALK: The most powerful co-conspirators to the problem of stigma is secrecy and silence. So, talking about substance use and mental health is a great place to start!
#3 – GET INVOLVED: Take the Pledge…
TAKE THE PLEDGE: http://bringchange2mind.org/
TAKE THE PLEDGE: https://www.nami.org/
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: http://www.samhsa.gov/
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): https://www.nami.org/
NAMI: Facts about Stigma and Mental Illness in Diverse Communities: http://www2.nami.org/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm?ContentFileID=5148
Partnership for Drug Free Kids: http://www.drugfree.org/
Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health: http://www.samhsa.gov/children
National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH): https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): https://www.drugabuse.gov/
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/
OK to Talk – Website for youth: http://ok2talk.org/
Talk About Mental Health: http://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/index.html
Conversations in Your Community: http://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/community-conversation/index.html