Source: Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash
Whether it be during May for Mental Health Awareness month or at any time during the year, there are many ways to help promote awareness and acceptance of mental health issues and care. Now more than ever, we are seeing the prevalence and importance of mental health issues in light of the pandemic. Over the last two years, the CDC reports an increase in adults reporting anxiety, depression, and trauma/stressor-related disorder symptoms along with increased substance use and even the number of those seriously considering suicide. While the state of the world over those two years has certainly acted as a catalyst and instigator for some issues, for many it also acted as a magnifying glass in that perhaps already existing struggles became bigger or more recognized than before. As we continue to navigate challenging times as a society, it is important that we come together to bring awareness to and address mental health issues for ourselves and our communities. What are some ways you can do this in your community?
Sharing Your Story or Supporting Others in Sharing Theirs
There is a long history of shame and isolation when it comes to mental health. One way in which we can start to shift this narrative is by sharing our own, or by supporting others as they share their stories. By showing our acceptance of ourselves and others, we break down barriers between each other piece-by-piece to create a path of openness and togetherness in dealing with mental health issues.
Educating Yourself and Others
Both seeking out resources like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to learn more for yourself and using this knowledge to educate others on the signs of mental health issues can be powerful means of action. Sharing your knowledge of mental health with family and friends who are not experiencing those struggles to help build their awareness, or using the information to help yourself or a loved one recognize issues that you or they may have had difficulty naming can be essential in creating a path towards better understanding and seeking out needed care.
Accessing and Sharing Resources
Oftentimes it can feel daunting trying to figure out where to go for help with mental health issues. If you need help locating services and support near you, NAMI offers assistance with this via their HelpLine which can be reached at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org from Monday through Friday 10 am to 10 pm ET. If you are experiencing a crisis you can also call NAMI’s Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7. If you prefer to text, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor 24/7 as well. Wildflower is also available and happy to be a resource for you if our services are a good match for you, and we are always sure to provide external referrals in the event that our services do not match your current needs.
In the words of Baha’U’Llah, “so powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” Within a world so ripe for isolation and divisiveness, let your togetherness and shared power of community shine a light on mental health as a beacon of strength and hope.
Czeisler MÉ , Lane RI, Petrosky E, et al. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1049–1057.