May is National Mental Health Month. Created in 1949, National Mental Health Month was established with the purpose of promoting the importance and awareness of mental wellness and mental health in all American’s lives, and to reduce the stigma people experience with a mental health diagnosis. Stigma continues to prevent people from seeking appropriate treatment. Suffering with untreated mental illness sometimes will cause individuals to self-medicate, with substances from alcohol to prescription drug abuse.
This past year has highlighted the need for mental health awareness in every aspect of our lives including how people suffered from isolation, grief, financial insecurity, food instability and sickness. We have seen and heard how the pandemic has created barriers to treatment, which is especially considering how one in six youth (6 – 17 years old) experience a mental health disorder and one in five adults experience mental illness each year. These conditions include depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
National Mental Health Month also focuses on mental health resilience. Resilient mental health can be defined as being able to cope with the ups and downs of life, and to maintain a positive outlook. A mentally and emotionally resilient person has the tools for coping with difficult situations. This makes the person focused, productive and flexible and it also makes them less afraid of new experiences and uncertain future. Mental health resilience is important in helping people to improve relationships, contribute to their community in a meaningful way, cope with stress, be physically healthy, realize their potential, and work productively.