May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this is a perfect time to raise awareness about mental illness. Let’s start with some facts and statistics:
- 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
- Mental illnesses are the most common health condition in the United States
- 1 in 25 Americans live with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability.
People who are experiencing a mental illness often feel shame which may lead to not getting the help they need. Other barriers for mental health treatment may be cost, transportation, culture, and limited access to quality care. Let’s join together this month to raise awareness and support those with a mental illness.
Things You Can Do to Reduce Stigma
- Learn How to Check in
- How have you been?
- How’s your stress level lately?
- How have you been eating and sleeping?
- Is there anything you want to talk about?
- Would you be willing to talk to someone?
- What can I do for you?
- When is the best time to check in with you again?
- Support those Around You
- Set aside time to talk with those in an open and non-judgmental environment with no distractions.
- Don’t try to diagnose or second guess their feelings. Try not to make assumptions about how they are feeling.
- Listen carefully to what they tell you. Repeating what they say back to them can be beneficial in ensuring you understand it. Showing you understand how they feel, lets them know you respect their feelings.
- Support them in reaching out for professional help.
- Educate Yourself on Mental Health
The more you know about mental health conditions, such as the risk factors, warning signs and symptoms, and prevalence, the more capable you are to have educated conversations about mental health. Here is a list of resources to start.
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)- nimh.nih.gov
- Valeo Behavioral Health Care – valeotopeka.org
- Mental Health America – mhanational.org
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)- nami.org
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA)- samhsa.org
- Address Stigmas You May Have
- Do not support media or TV shows that use stigmatizing language and behaviors, portraying people with a mental health condition in an aggressive or violent way.
- Recognize they way you are speaking about those with a mental illness. If you or the people around you are using stigmatizing language such as “crazy” or “bipolar” can make those with a mental illness feel ashamed.
- Believing those with a mental illness do not have the ability to recover.
- Being afraid of those who have a mental illness. Mentally ill persons are 2 ½ times as likely to be a victim of a violent crime than a perpetrator.
Mental Health Awareness month is an opportunity for all of us to start making the changes needed to support those with a mental illness. It is essential that we provide support tand learn how to check-in. Bringing attention to the issues still surrounding mental health can help break the stigmas, encourage those to seek support, and raise awareness to the mental health conditions affecting so many of our friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors.
Valeo’s Crisis Center is located at 400 SW Oakley Avenue. Valeo’s Crisis Center never closes, it is a walk-in emergency clinic with no appointment necessary. Valeo’s 24-Hour Crisis Line is 785-234-3300
Valeo Behavioral Health Care
400 SW Oakley, Topeka, KS 66606
24 Hour Crisis Line: 785-234-3300
National Suicide Prevention Life Line
Shawnee County Suicide Prevention Coalition
Family Service and Guidance Center (18 and under)
325 SW Frazier, Topeka, KS 66606
24 Hour Crisis Number: 785-232-5005
Healing after Loss to Suicide Group (HeALS)
Sandy Reams – Group Facilitator