Mental Health Month 2019: Confronting Stigma in America

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mental healthMost people do not realize how prevalent mental health conditions are in the United States. A significant number of men and women do not grasp that alcohol and substance use disorders are forms of mental illness. Such individuals may find it surprising to learn that one in five Americans experiences a mental health or substance use issue in a given year.

With nearly 60 percent of adults with mental health problems not receiving treatment, the need to talk about mental illness is essential. May, it turns out, is a perfect opportunity to open up the dialogue about prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery. May is Mental Health Month.

Each year at this time, Mental Health America (MHA) joins forces with organizations to raise awareness. The non-profit has a long history of spreading the word about mental illness. Since 1949, MHA has led events in May to encourage people to prioritize their psychiatric needs. The hope is that more people will receive screenings and treatment, allowing them to embrace life in recovery.

Mood disorders, such as major depression, impact the lives of millions of Americans. Most people know or are related to someone who battles depressive symptoms throughout the year. Depression alone affects more than 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Moreover, the condition is the leading cause of disability globally.

Staggering figures, like the ones above, should cause many people to take pause. Especially when they consider that evidence-based psychological and pharmacological treatments exist, but many find accessing care daunting. With proper assistance, men and women living with mental illness can thrive in recovery.

As a society, we must do anything in our power to encourage more to recognize the importance of physical and psychological well-being. Working together, we can break the stigma of mental illness and promote recovery.

Confronting Stigma in America

Stigma is one of the leading reasons why people do not seek assistance for mental illness. Myths and misconceptions surrounding psychiatric conditions create a climate of silence. Many individuals feel that asking for help or taking time to receive care will have social ramifications. Sadly, such fears are not unfounded; when people do not have the facts, they are likely to be less compassionate.

Society has come a long way regarding stigma, but scores of people continue to look unfavorably upon mental illness. Some individuals still consider addiction a moral failing. Others in the general public think that people living with depression can, if they wanted, choose to be happy. While neither perspective is accurate, misconceptions are hard to dispel, and millions of people suffer as a result.

Science tells us that genetic and environmental factors determine who will fall victim to mental health conditions. No one person is at fault for developing a behavioral health problem or mood disorder. Under no circumstance is mental illness a choice.

Those who are predisposed can make decisions (i.e., self-medicate) that harm their mental state further and speed up disease progression. However, deriding and castigating such individuals for their choices while in distress doesn’t help.

Mental Health Month: Spreading the Message

People in recovery and those who care about someone with mental health concerns can help spread the word during MHM2019. We have an opportunity this month to shine a light on mental health and promote change. Speaking up against stigma and using compassionate language to encourage people to seek support saves lives.

Social media can help get the word out about the importance of treatment and recovery. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be harnessed to promote the idea that mental health is paramount. A toolkit is available to help guide individuals toward the ends above.

MHA asks that everyone take time to consider their mental well-being, as well. The organization writes:

“Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. So much of what we do physically impacts us mentally – it’s important to pay attention to both your physical health and your mental health, which can help you achieve overall wellness and set you on a path to recovery.”

Colorado Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

Addiction is often impacted by or leads to the development of co-occurring mental health disorders. More than half of people living with a use disorder also struggle with other mood disorders.

At NorthStar Transitions, our qualified team of professionals treats the entire client. Each condition is addressed concurrently to help men and women achieve long-term recovery. Please contact us to learn more about our world-class addiction and dual diagnosis treatment center.