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This year marks the 70th anniversary of Mental Health Awareness Month. Since its inception, we have certainly come a long way in terms of knowledge and treatment of mental illness. It’s individuals like you who continue the conversation, push for legislation change, and advocate for the right treatment, who make progress possible. However, we are not quite ‘there’ when it comes to eradicating stigma and getting people well. We still need to spread the word and encourage others to take care of their mental health.
To kick off the month, we are providing a little history as well as information on how you can be involved in spreading awareness.
To understand the mental health reform movement, we must look to the story of Clifford W. Beers. He was a young Yale graduate with a promising career on Wall Street when everything came tumbling down. His brother succumbed to an illness and died, which triggered the first of Clifford’s bipolar episodes. In his distress, he attempted to take his life by jumping out of a window. He survived but spent the next three years in institutions receiving ‘treatment.’
The inhumane experiences in the institutions spurred him to form Mental Health America in 1909. Over the years, the organization championed for reform in mental health treatments. In 1949, they started Mental Health Awareness Week to bring attention to their efforts. It has since extended to the entire month of May.
You can learn more about the history of Mental Health America and all they have accomplished over the decades here.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is my go-to resource for information and statistics on mental illness. They have information about the different mental health conditions as well as a guide to knowing the signs of mental illness.
Mental Health America’s website also contains a wealth of information. They have a mental health screening tool for anyone who thinks they may need help. Based on the results, they will provide resources for further assistance.
In 2018, Mental Health America focused on #4Body4Mind which encouraged physical health to improve mental health. This year, they are expanding the theme to include other ways to promote mental health, such as animal companionship, work-life balance, spirituality, humor, and recreational and social connections.
NAMI’s theme is #WhyCare, and they gathered facts and statistics as reasons why you should care about mental health.
Here are some easy ways you can spread awareness.
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