by Comprehensive Staff
Since 1949, May has been celebrated as Mental Health Awareness Month. As Comprehensive Healthcare CEO Dr. Jodi Daly says, this is a time to consider and reflect on which mental health-related issues effect our communities. Increasing economic struggles combined with stress at work, family demands, and increased violence have increased the use of mental health services across the country.
Reports suggest that one in five people experience a mental illness, one in 24 experience a serious mental illness, and one in 12 experience a substance use disorder in a given year. This statistic implies that someone you know - a family member, friend, neighbor, member of your congregation, and/or a colleague = suffers from a behavioral health challenge.
Mental health issues are painful - emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Mental illness affects the mind, body, and spirit, and is a real, common, treatable disorder. Mental illness is far more common than cancer, diabetes, heart disease or arthiritis.
Stigmatization of those who suffer from mental illness is common. Stigma, by definition, is a mark of disgrace or shame. In general, stigma has four components: labeling someone with a condition; stereotyping people who have the condition; creating a division - a superior "us" group and a devalued "them" group; and discriminating against someone on the basis of a label.
Labels of a divisive manner can create feelings of guilt, shame, and a loss of self-esteem. While most people would never think of mocking someone with breast or prostrate cancer, mental health disorders are still treated as if they were fair game for ridicule. So what can we do about stigma? Take a good look at your community and acknowledge that mental health issues are part of the fabric. For Mental Health Awareness Month 2018, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is promoting the theme of #CureStigma. According to NAMI, "stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy, and understanding are the antitode. Your voice can spread the cure."
To learn more or join in on NAMI's efforts this May and beyond, click here.