by Christine F. Anderson
Christine shares with KRL mental health/mental illness articles now and then in her column-Forever Different. At the end of this article you will find info on one way you can make a difference during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with mental illness. Since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May; it reaches millions of Americans through the media, local events, and screenings. It gives Americans an opportunity to replace stigma with hope by bringing much-needed understanding and education to others.
This year, approximately one in five Americans—our friends, colleagues, and loved ones—will experience a diagnosable mental health condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or post-traumatic stress syndrome, and many others will be troubled by significant emotional and psychological problems, especially in times of difficulty. For most of these people, treatment can be effective and recovery is possible. Yet today, millions of Americans still do not receive the care they need.
In the past decade, as a country, we have made extraordinary progress in recognizing, diagnosing, and treating severe psychological illnesses. The Affordable Care Act extends mental health and substance use disorder benefits to over 60 million Americans. Protections under the law also prohibit insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, including a diagnosis of mental illness, and require most insurance plans to cover recommended preventive services without copays, including behavioral assessments for children, and screenings for depression. As part of the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), the government is funding innovative research that aims to revolutionize our understanding of conditions that affect the brain, and to improve the lives of all who live with them.
Despite the fact that it’s common to experience severe psychological distress, substance use problems, and mental illness, there is still a considerable stigma associated with mental health treatment. This month we must bring mental illness out of the shadows and encourage treatment for those who might benefit; it is our responsibility to recognize the signs of psychological and emotional distress and to support those in need. We must strive to remove the stigma around mental illness and its treatment, overcome fear and misunderstanding, and make sure all those dealing with a mental health issue know they are not alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; taking action to help yourself is a sign of strength.
Please do your part. Get online, educate yourself, contact an organization such as NAMI—the National Alliance on Mental Illness—and see how you can make a difference.
Personally, I will be donating 100% of the proceeds for the month of May from my book, Forever Different, to the International Bipolar Foundation. Also, from May 28-30 there will be a FREE Kindle promotion and I will be donating $1.00 for every free Kindle that is downloaded.
Check out KRL’s Mental Health section for more mental health related articles, and watch for more from Christine.