May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month was started in the United States in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization (then known as the National Association for Mental Health). Each year Mental Health America releases a toolkit of materials for outreach activities during Mental Health Awareness Month. Its purpose is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses, such as the 18.1% of Americans who suffer from  depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder; the realities of living with these conditions; and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness. It also aims to draw attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses. Additionally, Mental Health Awareness Month strives to reduce the negative attitudes and misconceptions that surrounds mental illnesses. Studies have shown that Mental illnesses affect 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children each year. Whether we know it or not, people struggling with mental health may be family members, neighbors, teachers, friends, or coworkers. We can all take steps to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness by doing the following:
  • Learning more about mental health: allows helpful support to those affected in our families and communities.
  • Advocating within our circles of influence: helps ensure these individuals have the same rights and opportunities as other members of your church, school and community.
  • Showing individuals respect and acceptance: removes a significant barrier to successfully coping with their illness. Having people see you as an individual and not as your illness can make the biggest difference for someone who is struggling with their mental health.
During the month of May, Mental Health America, its affiliates, and other organizations interested in mental health conduct a number of activities which are based on a different theme each year. The theme for 2018 is Fitness #4Mind4Body.  During the month of May, the main focus is on what we as individuals can do to be fit for our own futures – no matter where we happen to be on our own personal journeys to health and wellness. You can find more information from Mental Health America about their #4Mind4Body Challenge or download their mental health toolkit by visiting their website.  
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