Mental Health Awareness Month–What Does It Mean To You?

What Is Mental Health Awareness Month

With the recent death of Chris Cornell, the subject of mental health has once again started discussions all across social media.  Although it was my intention to post this at the beginning of the month, the information is no less relevant at the end of the month or at any other time for that matter.  Discussions need to continue.  We can’t talk about it enough.

Established in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization, Mental Health Awareness Month (May) serves to raise awareness of mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and what it’s like to live with these illnesses.  Through their website, outreach programs and social media campaigns, they work to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness by making more people aware of just how common some of these conditions really are.  A theme is assigned each year, and a downloadable toolkit is released in mid-March so that organizations can prepare for upcoming Mental Health Awareness Month activities and programs in their area.   People are encouraged to share their experiences and stories via social media with a specified hashtag for each theme.  The theme for 2017 is Risky Business, and highlights what behaviors can exacerbate mental illness.

sad person alone and away from group

Mental Health Facts

From NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health):

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.
  • 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.

– See more here.

Personal Struggle

As many of you who have been with us for some time may already know, I have a good deal of experience with this subject.  From PPD (Post Partum Depression) to some really low points surrounding a string of surgeries to family members who also deal with various types of mental illness, it is a subject very close to home for me.  Having seen and experienced first hand the positive results being active outdoors can have on the mind and body, this blog came to be.  Improving my overall wellness (fitness, clean eating) has made an incredible difference.  Getting outdoors is what makes me feel better.  Physical activity in the outdoors has been huge game-changer.  It is my hope that we can help others to discover these positive effects as well.

Depression was a factor for me after surgery.

Talk About It

The urge to keep your struggle to yourself is a powerful one.  As a mom, I am expected to keep going and be there for everyone and everything.  I do not have the time to be sidelined with feelings of hopelessness, sadness or anxiety.  But the fact of the matter is, if I am not at 100%, then how much of myself am I able to give to my family?  I think it is important for our children to realize that we have our off days, too, and that it happens to lots of people. Most days I feel completely overwhelmed with everything on my plate.  Staying on top of my mental health is a huge priority.

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of sadness, hopelessness or thoughts of suicide, please get help.  Whether you talk to a friend, a teacher or a doctor, talk to someone.  Let someone know what and how you are feeling.  Here are some important numbers and organizations that can help

 NAMI HELPLINE

800-950-NAMIinfo@nami.org

M-F, 10 AM – 6 PM ET

Find Help in a crisisor Text “NAMI” to 741741

MHA (Mental Health America)

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center, or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

24 hours 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

 

Share Your Story

What does Mental Health Awareness Month mean to you?  Do you have something that aids you in maintaining good mental health?  We would love to hear your stories.  Has your life been enriched by a certain outdoor activity?  Do you also enjoy hiking with your dog, as I do?  We will be sharing some of your stories in an upcoming blog post!

 

 

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor.  Any advice given here is not intended to take the place of a qualified physician’s advice.  Even though I encourage folks to get outside and become more active as a way to improve their physical and mental health, this certainly does not mean that I believe this is the only way to treat mental illness.  Medications are sometimes needed.  I am not anti-medication.  Your personal situation is something best discussed between yourself and your physician.  

Sources:  https://www.nimh.nih.gov/site-info/if-you-or-someone-you-know-is-in-crisis-and-needs-immediate-help.shtml, https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Infographics-Fact-Sheets

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