May is Mental Health Month. Mental health diseases are very common, yet the general population is relatively unaware of the implications of these disorders. This is because mental health disorders tend to get swept under the rug or hidden behind closed doors. Families don't like to talk about their mental health problems, and discussing depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders tends to make us uncomfortable. However, mental illness can easily balloon into even more serious disasters if left untreated, and this month is so important because it gets people talking about the issue.

Mental Health Awareness

Some individuals with untreated mental illness make headlines - the movie theatre shooters, the suicides, and the school shootings are just a few examples. All of us have been touched in some way by mental illness, either by witnessing the horror along with the rest of the country, or in our own personal lives. And yet, millions of Americans live with some form of untreated mental illness. Mental Health Month has been observed for more than 60 years. Organizations across the country hold activities, conduct public awareness campaigns, and do mental health screenings to observe this month and educate others. The theme this year is Pathways to Wellness. Organizers are focusing on the fact our wellness is "tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health". An excerpt from the Mental Health America website, which has led the way in the campaign to create awareness for mental health, states that:
  • We must take stock of our well-being through regular mental health checkups and screenings. Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it's a good idea to take periodic reading of our emotional well-being.
  • Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental health and substance use conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.
Mental health is so important. It is time for our society to stop turning away from the mental distress and disorders that are all around us. Mental disorders can be effectively treated if they are identified. By participating in Mental Health Month activities, we can all do our part to make sure others know about the seriousness of mental health disorders, and encourage those struggling with a disorder to get help.
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