One out of five American adults experiences mental illness each year. Furthermore, it is estimated that two out of three Americans or more will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Societal stigmas often prevent individuals from seeking help for their mental health disorders. Each year, Mental Health Awareness Month fights the stigma, provides support, educates the public, and encourages policies that support individuals suffering from mental illness.
Since we’re living in a time of social distancing, the National Alliance on Mental Illness designated this year’s campaign as “You Are Not Alone.” The idea is that, right now, connectedness is more important than ever. Just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we have to isolate ourselves from our loved ones. Since social distancing poses a threat to the mental health of people who suffer from mental illness, Mental Health Awareness Month is more relevant than ever before.
The History of Mental Health Awareness Month
America is no stranger to negative perceptions and stigmas associated with mental health. For many years, the available treatment options were often avoided due to fear of societal judgments. In the late 1940s, the first National Mental Health Awareness Week was launched in the U.S. During the 1960s this annual, weekly campaign became a monthly one and the month of May became Mental Health Awareness Month.
According to data by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), over 18.1% of Americans suffering from depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, the goal of this movement is to raise awareness around mental illness and related issues within the country. Mental Health Awareness Month sheds light on the realities of living with these conditions as well as strategies for maintaining mental health and wellness. The campaign also seeks to heighten awareness of suicide which is often propelled by an underlying mental health condition.
Mental Health Awareness Month During COVID-19
Many event organizers focus on reducing the stigma around mental disorders. Throughout Mental Health Awareness Month, organizations like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provide critical funding and events to support awareness campaigns. However, given the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, many of the events have been canceled.
As COVID-19 has disrupted our nation, the physical consequences of this virus are not the only challenges we are facing. In fact, many individuals feel their financial insecurities are insurmountable and the isolation due to the current social distancing has proved to be difficult for many Americans. During this challenging time, many family members have lost their jobs, children are unable to return to school, and the idea of returning to normalcy seems almost unattainable. These issues pose a great challenge to all Americans, especially those struggling with mental health disorders.
In order to address these issues, SAMHSA quickly began releasing $360 million in emergency grant funding to meet the needs of Americans during this crisis. Furthermore, Mental Health Awareness Month 2020 is still being recognized with the theme of You Are Not Alone taking the lead to support individuals across the United States.
Mental Health Awareness Month 2020: You Are Not Alone
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has chosen the theme “You Are Not Alone” to head the campaign by featuring the lived experience of people affected by mental illness in order to fight stigma, inspire others, and educate society as a whole. Now more than ever before, in lieu of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is absolutely vital for the mental health community to show the world that no one should ever feel alone. This campaign has utilized the availability of digital tools to make spreading awareness through connection possible during the climate of physical distancing.
Throughout the month of May 2020, NAMI will feature personal stories from individuals experiencing mental health conditions. Reading the lived experiences of others struggling can help other individuals feel less alone through their individual mental health journies.
Mental Health Awareness Month 2020 Resources
While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges that often impact their mental health. Due to the social distancing caused by COVID-19 and the impact on mental health, we believe these resources are helpful even for the short term during this time. Here is a list of practical tools and resources that any individual can use to improve their mental health while increasing resiliency regardless of the situations they are dealing with.
- Submit your story to nami.org/yourstory to speak out on your experience with mental illness and to help others along the journey.
- Read the Mental Health First Aid blog to learn how to stay healthy and help others during the COVID-19 virus.
- Download the Tools2Thrive Mental Health Month Toolkit
- Seek professional mental health treatment services at Agape Treatment Centers
- Engage and speak up for mental health awareness and advocacy at Be Vocal
- Download infographics at NAMI for sharing and spreading awareness on mental illness
- Join an Interest Group to learn more about mental health in select populations
- Share your story or inspiration and join the social media movement using the hashtag #MentalHealthMonth
Finding Help for Mental Illness
Mental Health Awareness Month is a reminder of the many stigmas that continue to surround mental disorders. From substance abuse to anxiety and depression, many individuals avoid seeking behavioral health treatment. Mental health treatment programs or dual diagnosis addiction treatment centers can provide the support individuals need in order to recover.
Whether an individual is in need of a faith-based treatment program or aftercare for an addiction, there are a ton of treatment options available. During treatment, individuals can discover programs such as:
- Trauma-informed care
- Dual diagnosis programs
- 12-Step Yoga
- Clinical, psychiatric, nutritional, and physical evaluations
- Integrative medicine
- Massage therapy
- Meditation therapy
No individual should ever have to feel they are alone when facing mental illness. Agape Treatment Centers can help you or your loved one recover and live a successful, happy life. Learn more about how we can help you by calling us today!