May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a fact that most of you are already aware. The goal of having a month in honor of those who live with mental health challenges is to start a conversation about mental illness. Only if mental illness is brought out into the bright sunlight can it be recognized not as the inability for some people to handle their lives, but a human condition that can happen to anyone.
It has been stated over and over one our of every four people will live with a mental illness sometime in their lives.
I put it to you that 100% of people will have a mental health crisis in their lifetimes that will leave an impact on their lives forever.
Let’s list a few of these events to illustrate my point.
Death of a loved one. All humans, indeed all living things, die. There is no escaping this fundamental fact of life. If the person who dies is someone very close to you or, god forbid, your child a mental health crisis will occur. Perhaps these individuals will be able to eventually get their lives back on track without help, but the trauma of that great loss to themselves will leave a lifelong scar.
Illness. Suppose you were diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer today. Can you honestly say that you would not have a mental health crisis? Even if you survive the assault on your physical health, wouldn’t your life be forever altered?
Lost love. Relationships are very tricky things that humans tend to crave and desire. Yet, what happens when things go horribly wrong and the relationship you thought would last forever suddenly is over? Yes, a mental health crisis will erupt.
Some may think the above instances are crises that should be handled well, many people suffer from grief and depression sometimes lasting for decades or a lifetime.
It is not what happens to us that makes us mentally ill, it is our response to these events that changes us or makes us sick.
There are no laws that say only certain people can become mentally unstable! Everyone are vulnerable.
Mental health issues can arise in anyone, and seeing a therapist should not label people as “sick”, “weak” or lazy. Getting help when a person feels their emotional and personal lives are out of control should not be something to hide.
Stigma is a horrible crime against humanity and must stop. Why should men and women suffer alone all their lives afraid to reach out for help?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) works very hard to change the landscape of mental health and how it is being received in the public. I belong to NAMI and I know how hard they have working to cure out stigma campaign that is second to none. By visiting the NAMI web site you can take a quiz to win a prize and sign the oath to not stigmatize others and to spread the word about the truths of mental illness.
The number one message that we can get out to people is that living with a mental illness is not a death sentence. With treatment, a majority of people treated by mental health professionals feel better and will be back at their work and involved in life again. That is a huge boost over living their entire lives suffering in silence from the debilitating effects of mental health issues for their entire lifetimes.