According to MentalHealth.gov, mental health is defined as our “emotional, psychological, and social well-being” and as of 2014, one in five American adults have experienced a mental health issue and one in 25 Americans have experienced a serious mental illness, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
People first show signs of mental health issues before they are 14 years old and 75% of mental health disorders begin before a person turns 24.
Since 1949, May has been acknowledged as Mental Health Month as a way to raise awareness about mental health and encourage people experiencing issues to seek help. This May, use some of these tips to encourage mental health awareness in your own life and spread awareness in your local community.
Educate yourself on symptoms of mental illness
One of the best ways to raise awareness about mental health issues is to learn some of the early warning signs. This can help you to realize if you or someone you know should seek help.
Some of these common signs can include:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Having low energy
- Feeling numb, helpless, hopeless, or like nothing matters
- Experiencing severe mood swings
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
While these are just a few of many symptoms, and experiencing one or two of these signs for a short period of time is not an indicator of mental health issues, being aware of these symptoms can help you know if there may be a bigger problem.
Host a mental health screening
You can also raise awareness about mental health issues by hosting a mental health screening on your college campus or in your home town. Screening for Mental Health, Inc. (SMH) is an organization that works to create a world where mental health is viewed just as seriously as physical health.
To work toward their mission, SMH hosts mental health screenings on college campuses, at middle and high schools, and workplaces and community organizations. These screenings are a quick and anonymous way for a mental health professional to detect warning signs of mental health issues. Their unique programs can also allow you to choose an event that meets your organization’s needs.
To contact SMH, visit their website.
Talk about it
As with all taboo topics, one of the easiest ways to break down barriers in raising awareness is by talking about it. If you know someone who has mental health issues, make sure to listen to them without judgment and take their concerns seriously. Don’t be afraid to just ask how they are and if they aren’t already seeking help, encourage them to do so in a friendly, non-invasive way. If they would like, you could even go with them to a doctor’s visit.
You can also make sure that accurate and up-to-date information on mental health is available at key places in your community, like doctors offices, women’s centers and other safe spaces. If they don’t have information or brochures, reach out to mental health organizations and ask if you can have some informational materials for your community.
Use less stigmatizing language
We are all guilty of using stigmatizing language every once in awhile. Saying phrases like “she’s insane!” or “what a psycho!” as an insult can not only be offensive to people with mental health issues, but it can also reinforce the way you view mental health issues. Always demonizing someone as “crazy” or “schitzo” in a difficult situation reinforces the idea that mental health issues are something negative and that people with them are bad.
Next time you go to use one of these words as an insult, stop and think about a better way to get your feelings across.