Are you aware that there is one in four people in America who have a mental illness? That is approximately 56% of the general population. Developing awareness is not an easy task. We have to be sure to shade a day or month with a ‘green ribbon.’ What does this mean? When people and the community are aware of mental health, it is more convenient to identify basic treatment for individuals with mental health illnesses. These individuals could potentially be your parents, child, close friend, other loved ones, or even yourself. Early treatment can definitely help us receive proper care. Consequently, healing and recovery are achieved the soonest time possible.
If you or a loved one is having some problems and is aware that he must seek help from a professional, do you have sufficient knowledge about how to avail of mental health services? In a 176 individuals study, 50% never accessed any services simply because they didn’t know-how. The inability or lack of this access could be secondary to misinformation about what to do and where to go. A mental health disorder cannot just be treated only by will but by the appropriate treatment.
Increasing your awareness also gets rid of the stigma for most people with a mental illness. If you are aware of these people’s strengths and boundaries, stigma might be eliminated. For instance, your son was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Do you want people around him to say, “He’s is nuts, you’ve got to lock him up?” Stigma is a thought or idea of the whole community. It puts embarrassment to the mentally sick and creates a society where people’s minds are fickle, and acceptance of different things is not so easy to get. Behaviors and personalities affect a community into becoming either a negative or a positive influence. If the trend is negative, then the consequences might result in a combination of hatred and denial.
Awareness also helps improve those with mental disorders. Because there is a continually rising public demand, this produces increasing attention – and attention can subsequently cause tremendous changes for people with mental illness. There might be improvements seen in research, services, and policies.
But how can we promote mental health awareness in your own community? Here are some simple strategies.
Spreading The Word
Just as we strive to educate the community regarding physical medical conditions like heart disease, we must begin interesting conversations about mental health and mental disorders. You can help increase awareness in your neighborhood by:
- Talking with people you know and trust. Inquire from family members, close friends, and work colleagues about how they are and listen really well. If there is a hint of them feeling depressed, stressed, or anxious, tell them that you are there and that you can provide them with credible resources about what they’re going through. Also, urge them to reach out to a professional if they are considering suicide or self-harm.
- Learn more for yourself. It’s not rare for people to misinterpret the whole subject of mental illness. So it is beneficial for you to learn more about it and share what you will learn. Talk to teens and young adults about mental health in a language that they can relate with. Children are also vulnerable to mental disorders and may suffer illnesses like anxiety and depression as young as 5 years old.
- Share your story with others. If you are battling with a mental health disorder, find the courage to share it. Realizing that other people can go through the same condition that you have can sometimes be comforting. It can also serve as an inspiration for others to seek help and consider treatment.
- Encourage polite language. When you listen to those in your community talking about mental disorder in critical terms, politely tell them to think about how their words might affect those concerned. Any type of language that increases mental disorder stigma is damaging and might even be a reason for someone to refuse help.
- Help organize a mental health screening day or week. Coordinating with community members in making a screening event possible in your community and urge the people to take positive steps to maintain or improve their mental well-being.
- Do some volunteer work. Mental health groups such as Community Reach Centers often need a hand in making certain initiatives and events possible. Your email or phone call would be very much welcome.
- Utilize social media positively. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms can be great channels for encouraging teens, adults, and seniors to open their minds about mental disorders.
- Promote physical wellness that backs up mental wellness. Help your community get a sense of understanding about physical health, which directly affects mental health. Engaging in exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy food all have vital roles in an individual’s emotional, physical, and mental state.