Trends and Statistics - Dual Diagnosis

Mental Health Awareness Month: Make May a Month of Change

Mental Health Awareness Month

1 in 20 US adults experience serious mental illness each year. Nay is Mental Health Awareness Month. Here's why recognizing them is so important.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Trends and Statistics

Dual Diagnosis

May 3, 2023

The prevalence of mental health problems in the US is steadily rising. Mental health has become a big public health concern. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar illness, and substance use disorders are just a few of the mental health conditions that people of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and communities are affected by nationwide.

One contributing factor to the rising mental health issue in the USA is the increasing stress and pressure experienced by individuals in various aspects of life. Factors such as:

can all affect mental health. 

The rising mental health issue in the USA has far-reaching consequences, including impacts on individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole. Addressing the rising mental health issue in the USA requires a multi-faceted approach. This includes increasing awareness and education about mental health, reducing stigma, and promoting access to affordable and accessible mental health care.

Mental Health Awareness Month was started in the 1940s by the National Association of Mental Health, known today as Mental Health America. More than ever, public awareness of mental disorders – and treatment for them – is a critical necessity.

By the Numbers

According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 57.8 million persons in the United States who were 18 or older had AMI (any mental illness) in 2021. This figure equated to 22.8% of all adults in the United States.  

What Is the History of Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental Health Awareness Month is a yearly event in May that aims to increase understanding of mental health, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and advance advocacy and education for mental health. It was in the middle of the 20th century in the United States that Mental Health Awareness Month first began.

Early in the 20th century, there was a lack of knowledge about mental health, and people with mental illnesses frequently endured stigma, prejudice, and cruelty. But around the middle of the 20th century, campaigns to increase public understanding of mental illness and demand better mental health care picked up steam.

The National Mental Health Association (NMHA), founded in 1909 and later changed its name to Mental Health America (MHA) in 2006, was one of the major events that sparked the founding of Mental Health Awareness Month.

One of the first organizations in the United States devoted to supporting mental health reform and raising public awareness about mental health was the National Mental Health Association (NMHA). The first National Mental Health Week was instituted by the NMHA in 1949. It was commemorated in October to increase public awareness of mental health through community events, media campaigns, and educational initiatives.

The development of new psychotropic drugs and the deinstitutionalization movement, which sought to relocate people with mental illness from psychiatric institutions to community-based care, caused substantial changes in mental health care in the United States in the 1950s.

Despite Progress, Mental Health Stigma Lingers

Nevertheless, despite these encouraging advancements, stigma, and discrimination surrounding mental illness persisted, requiring more initiatives to increase public understanding of and access to mental health resources.

The organization Mental Health America (MHA) transformed Mental Health Week into Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949, adopting May as the month of celebration. In order to capitalize on the approach of spring, considered a period of regeneration and growth, and to represent hope and recovery for those with mental Illness, Mental Health Awareness Month was chosen to take place in May.

Since then, the month of May has been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month. In addition, various events, educational programs, media campaigns, and advocacy initiatives have been added to mark this occasion. In order to raise awareness, comprehension, and support for mental health concerns, many organizations now participate in Mental Health Awareness Month, including mental health advocacy groups, healthcare organizations, educational institutions, and communities.

Mental Health Awareness Month has been essential in advancing mental health education, lowering stigma, and supporting better healthcare policies and procedures. In addition, it has aided in increasing public awareness of mental health issues, urged people to get the support they need, and cultivated acceptance and understanding for people who deal with mental illness.

Mental Health Awareness Month: Combating the Stigma Attached to Mental Health

The term "mental health stigma" describes negative attitudes, preconceptions, and stereotypes that certain people may hold about people who have mental health disorders. The lives of persons who encounter this stigma can be significantly impacted by the discrimination, exclusion, and marginalization it frequently results in.

Therefore, fighting mental health stigma is essential to ensuring that people with mental health issues receive the attention and assistance they need without being afraid of discrimination or judgment.

Fighting Mental Health Stigma

One effective way to combat mental health stigma is through education and awareness. Educating the public about mental health, including its prevalence, causes, and treatments, can help dispel myths and misconceptions. It is important to highlight that mental health conditions are medical, just like physical health conditions, and are not signs of weakness or a lack of character.

Educating people about mental health's complex and multifactorial nature can help break down stereotypes and promote empathy and understanding toward individuals with mental health conditions.

The Importance of Conversations About Mental Health

Another important strategy is to encourage open and honest conversations about mental health. Creating safe spaces where people feel comfortable sharing their experiences and emotions can help reduce stigma. Sharing personal stories of individuals who have lived with mental health conditions and have overcome challenges can help humanize the issue and create empathy among others.

Celebrities, public figures, and leaders can play a crucial role in using their platforms to speak openly about mental health, reducing the associated shame and silence.

Promoting inclusivity and acceptance is also key in combating mental health stigma. Emphasizing that mental health conditions can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status can help reduce the tendency to stereotype or discriminate against individuals with mental health conditions.

In addition, encouraging diverse representation in media and eliminating language that reinforces negative stereotypes or derogatory terms can also contribute to creating a more inclusive environment.

Advocacy and Public Policy

Moreover, advocacy work and policy changes can be extremely important in fighting against stigma related to mental health. A fairer society can be achieved by implementing laws and policies safeguarding the rights and welfare of people with mental health issues, such as anti-discrimination laws.

Ensuring that people with mental health conditions have access to the same level of care and support as those with physical health conditions, access to mental health services, lower financial barriers, and promote mental health parity may also contribute to reducing stigma.

Support and Resources for Mental Health

Finally, providing support and resources for individuals with mental health conditions and their families is important. Access to mental health services, such as counseling, therapy, and medication, is essential in helping individuals manage their conditions and live fulfilling lives. In addition, providing mental health education and resources in schools, workplaces, and communities can help individuals develop coping skills, resilience, and self-care strategies.

Peer support groups, helplines, and online communities can also provide a safe space for individuals to connect, share experiences, and seek support.

Thus, eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness requires a multi-faceted strategy that includes assistance, inclusivity, legislation reforms, education, awareness, and conversation. In order to create a society where mental health is treated with the same respect and importance as physical health, it is critical to establish a culture that encourages empathy, understanding, and acceptance of people who struggle with mental health issues.

We can foster an environment that is more inclusive and supportive for persons impacted by mental health disorders by challenging and altering social attitudes and practices around mental health.

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Mental Health Awareness Month: What Is Mental Health?

A person's psychological, emotional, and social functioning is referred to as mental health. It includes a person's thoughts, feelings, and actions and how they interact with others, manage stress, and make decisions. A person's capacity to lead a fulfilling life depends significantly on their mental health, an essential component of their overall health.

Mental health is a condition of good mental health rather than the absence of mental illness or disorders. It involves having the capacity to reason logically, successfully regulate one's emotions, establish and maintain good relationships, deal with stress, and adjust to changes and obstacles in life. It is a crucial component of our existence that affects all spheres, including the social, professional, and personal ones.

Various elements, including biological, psychological, environmental, and social, impact mental health. The interplay between these elements can influence a person's mental health. An individual's mental health may be impacted by a variety of factors, such as genetic predisposition, brain chemistry, early experiences in life, life events, social support, and cultural background.

Maintaining good mental health is crucial for overall well-being. It allows individuals to function optimally in their daily lives, pursue their goals, and enjoy meaningful relationships. Good mental health also contributes to physical health, which is closely interconnected with one's physical well-being. Conversely, poor mental health can significantly impact a person's quality of life and may lead to mental disorders like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and others.

It is crucial to keep in mind that anyone can experience changes in their mental health at various times during their lives because mental health is a continuum. It is common to experience difficulties and tensions that could harm one's mental health.

However, it is crucial to take proactive measures to preserve good mental health, including engaging in healthy coping techniques, practicing self-care, asking for help from loved ones or mental health specialists, and adopting a balanced lifestyle.

Mental Health Awareness Month: What Are the Different Types of Mental Illness?

The term "mental illness" is also used to describe various problems that impact a person's thoughts, emotions, behavior, and general mental health. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which the American Psychiatric Association publishes, has a list of criteria that are generally used to diagnose mental diseases. Here are some of the most common types of mental illnesses:

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive worry, fear, or nervousness that is out of proportion to the situation. Common types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.

Mood Disorders

It involves disturbances in a person's mood or emotional state. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a common mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating. Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, involves episodes of extreme mood swings between depression and mania.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder characterized by disruptions in thinking, perception, emotions, and behavior. People with schizophrenia may experience hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and difficulty with social interactions.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are characterized by enduring patterns of behavior, thoughts, and emotions that deviate from cultural expectations and cause distress or impairment in functioning. Examples of personality disorders include borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder.

Substance Use Disorders

Substance use disorders involve the excessive use of alcohol or drugs, leading to significant impairment in daily life activities. This can include substance abuse, dependence, and addiction.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterized by abnormal eating behaviors and attitudes towards food and body image. Common types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

In most cases, ADHD manifests in childhood and continues throughout adulthood as a neurodevelopmental condition. It has signs like not paying attention, being too active, and acting on impulses, making it hard to go about your daily life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

After being exposed to or experiencing a stressful experience, some people may acquire post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some signs of PTSD are flashbacks, nightmares, avoiding triggers, and mood or behavior changes.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterized by persistent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental rituals (compulsions) that are intended to alleviate the anxiety caused by the obsessions.

Dissociative Disorders

Dissociative disorders involve disruptions in a person's consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the self or surroundings. Examples include dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder) and dissociative amnesia.

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What Are Some Common Symptoms of Mental Disorders?

Symptoms of mental disorders can vary depending on the specific mental health condition, but some common signs and symptoms that may indicate a mental health problem include:

  • Changes in mood: Persistent sadness, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, or a lack of interest

  • Changes in behavior: Such as withdrawing from social activities, isolating oneself from others, neglecting personal hygiene or self-care, and experiencing changes in sleep patterns

  • Difficulty coping with daily life: Difficulty with concentration, decision-making, memory, or problem-solving, may be a sign of deteriorating mental health

  • Physical symptoms: Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, changes in appetite or digestion, or unexplained aches and pains, may also be indicative of deteriorating mental health.

  • Changes in thought patterns: Distorted thinking patterns like persistent negative thoughts, difficulty focusing or concentrating, and experiencing excessive worry or fear that are not based on reality can be signs of deteriorating mental health.

  • Changes in interpersonal relationships: Changes in the quality of interpersonal relationships, such as difficulty maintaining relationships, increased conflicts with others, withdrawal from social activities, or changes in communication patterns, may also indicate deteriorating mental health.

  • Increased substance use: Increased or problematic use of substances such as alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications may indicate deteriorating mental health, as individuals may turn to substances as a coping mechanism or to self-medicate.

The Edge Treatment Center: Evidence-Based Treatment for Mental Health

Mental Health Awareness Month isn’t just about ribbons and events. It can be a catalyst for lasting change for you or a loved one struggling with mental health.

The Edge Treatment Center is dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment for mental health disorders. It is staffed by a team of experienced and caring mental health professionals committed to helping individuals on their path to recovery. In addition, highly trained psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and counselors are here to offer personalized care and support throughout your treatment journey.  

We understand that mental health disorders are complex and multi-faceted, requiring a comprehensive and individualized approach to care. Our team conducts thorough assessments to understand your unique challenges, strengths, and goals. We then work collaboratively with you to develop a customized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs.

Finally, we work with you to develop a comprehensive relapse prevention plan, which may include continued therapy, medication management, and support groups, to ensure you have the tools and resources to maintain your long-term mental wellness.

Want to learn more about the mental health programs at The Edge Treatment Center? Reach out to us today!

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