May is Mental Health Month

May 14, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Mental Health, Muffy Walker

by Muffy Walker

Since May is Mental Health Month, we will be featuring a mental health related article every week. Muffy Walker, MSN, MBA, is Co-founder & Chairman of the International Bipolar Foundation.

In 1949, Mental Health America named May as Mental Health Month. The purpose of the observance is to bring about awareness and spread the word that mental health is something everyone should care about. Awareness to other groups within that community has since grown with the first Thursday in May designated as National Children’s Mental Health Day.

According to the NIMH, in 2014, there were an estimated 43.6 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with any mental illness in the past year. This number represented 18.1% of all U.S. adults. Of those, 9.8 million adults had a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder). internationalbipolarbiggerlogo

Approximately 13 percent of children ages 8 to 15 had a diagnosable mental disorder within the previous year, with just over 20 percent (or 1 in 5), either currently or at some point during their life, having had a seriously debilitating mental disorder. Lastly, according to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

To put these numbers in perspective, approximately 39.6 percent will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2010-2012 NCI data) and 11.5 percent of adults will be diagnosed with heart disease (CDC).

There are unfortunately many more disturbing and tragic mental health statistics that point out the need for our communities to come together in support of research, anti-stigma campaigns, suicide prevention, improved access to treatment, better medications, outreach and education and support of our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, co-workers and neighbors.

This month, you can join us as we spread the word about mental illness, dispelling myths and advocating for our brethren.

What you can do:

• The primary call to action for the month will be for people to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them using #mentalillnessfeelslike
• Learn more about how common mental illnesses are
• Help dispel the myths surrounding mental illnesses

As Chairman of the Board of International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) and in observance of Mental Health Month, I am honored to celebrate our mental health heroes: IBPF’s board member Kevin Hines–winner of Mental Health America’s highest honor, the Clifford W. Beers Award for Outstanding Advocate, IBPF’s 2016 Imagine Award winners: Paul Dalio – director and writer of Touched with Fire and Suzy Favor Hamilton – three time Olympian, and to our organization for being named the Outstanding Organization of the Year Change Maker Award presented by Child Mind Institute. Bravo!

Check out KRL’s Mental Health section for more mental health related articles.

Muffy Walker was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, PA. She currently resides in Switzerland with her husband John C. Reed and their three sons. In 1983, Walker graduated with a Master’s of Science in Psychiatric Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked in the mental health field for over 18 years until she moved to California when she obtained her MBA with a focus in marketing from the University of California-Irvine. Walker is the founder and Chairman of International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF). After learning that her youngest son had Bipolar Disorder, Walker joined other mental health boards and ultimately started IBPF. She has served on a plethora of boards including Children’s Hospital, Kids Korps USA, NeighborHelp, ChildHelp USA, and has dedicated the past 10 years of her life championing the education of the public about mental illness.


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