16
May
2019
|
05:41 PM
America/Chicago

May is Mental Health Awareness Month: Increase your mental health literacy

by Roger Whittler, LPC, Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program

Summary

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of American affected by mental illness, May is a month for raising awareness of mental health, fighting the stigma of mental illness, and educating and advocating for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.

by Roger Whittler, LPC, Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program

Mental Health Awareness Month 2019

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of American affected by mental illness, May is a month for raising awareness of mental health, fighting the stigma of mental illness, and educating and advocating for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.

Mental illness is very common, and its magnitude demands our attention. According to statistics, an estimated 1 in 5 people will have a mental illness during their lifetime, and media frequently reports on someone acting erratic. The United States Social Security Administration’s 2016 Annual Report on The Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 1 in 4 disabled American workers suffer from mental illness.

Mental health awareness can evoke many questions. As an individual, it may be unclear how to mark the occasion. As a parent, relative or friend of someone who suffers from mental illness, we may wonder how we can help.One way we can contribute to increasing mental health awareness, decreasing stigma related to mental illness and improving our well-being is through mental health literacy.

Mental health literacy is a key component of overall mental health. Mental health literacy, rooted in more general health literacy, means maintaining positive mental health and understanding its roots—as well as enhancing knowledge of resources for management. Studies show medical professionals widely acknowledge health literacy as being helpful in the care that patients receive. Furthermore, poor health literacy can be linked to increased rates of chronic illness, decreased use of health services, and early mortality.

What I get from this—and hope that others agree—is that we should consider preventative visits with a mental health professional the same way we have annual checkups with a physician. If literacy relates to improving our mental health we could:

  • Make an appointment with a mental health professional for either an in-person or by-phone session.
  • Ask questions about disorders and treatment.
  • Locate and obtain mental health resources; i.e. pamphlets, workshops or training.
  • Have an open dialogue with family and friends regarding mental illness to create a sense of safety in being able to discuss mental distress, whereby seeking help is encouraged.

I believe these are great ways to acknowledge May as Mental Health Awareness month!

Reaching out for help is a sign of strength and hope. Interested in learning more? Schedule a preventative session by calling the Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program at 1-800-688-7859.

Bibliography

Annual Statistical Report on The Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2016, Retrieved from URL: https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2016/di_asr16.pdf

Crowe, Allison, Et. El., (2018), Self-Stigma, Mental Health Literacy, and Health Outcomes in IntegratedCare: Journal of Counseling & Development, 96, 267-277.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (2019, May 10), Retrieved from URL https://www.nami.org/