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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

    Since 1949, May has been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month, aiming to not only increase awareness about mental health conditions, but also to remove stigma associated with people with mental illnesses. It was created as a way of informing the general public of mental illnesses, raising awareness around research and treatment, decreasing the stigma associated with mental illnesses, and celebrating the recovery from mental illnesses. Whether someone is personally suffering from mental health issues, Mental Health Awareness Month helps individuals acknowledge how mental illness impacts their lives, informs individuals of services that are available, and highlights ways to advocate.

    Heres a look at what these organizations are planning for May, while advocating on behalf of the millions of Americans who live with mental health conditions each day. Hospitals and health systems are sharing through AHAs Living Learning Network (LLN), AHAs Behavioural Health Services, and AHAs Listserv their stories from the field about how they are supporting their healthcare workers wellness. Since launching this travel campaign, Secretary Becerra and HHS leaders have traveled around the country hearing directly from Americans about mental health issues they are facing, and engaging with local leaders on strengthening mental health and crisis treatment systems in our communities.

    Congress provided resources for fiscal year 2022 that will bolster the nations crisis care system, including $5 million for the creation of a new coordinating office at the 988 level, which will simplify implementation, and $10 million for a mental health crisis intervention partnership pilot program that will help communities establish mobile crisis intervention teams. It announced $226.5 million to begin the Community Health Workers (CHW) Training Program, which will expand the number of CHWs that serve critical roles connecting individuals with treatment, including mental and substance use disorders prevention, treatment, and recovery services. The Community Mental Health Block Grant provides financial assistance to states and territories to implement their states plans for offering integrated, community-based mental health services and evidence-based practices for adults with serious mental illnesses and children with severe emotional disturbances.

    We can all do more to increase the understanding of the importance of mental health and the effects it has on the well-being of all Americans, including children, adults, families, and communities throughout our Nation. Mental health month increases awareness about trauma and the effects it can have on children, families, and communities mental, physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing. Given how common mental illnesses are, and how they are closely linked to overall health and wellbeing, it is important that we spend this time raising awareness about prevention, resources, support, and treatment.

    Even more important, according to Paul Simone, PhD, vice president and medical director for behavioral health, it is critical for community members to realize mental illness is not something that we can conquer through sheer force of will. At the United Way of Central Minnesota, seniors, children, and families are able to access quality behavioral health care and wellness programs only with engagement from our compassionately driven community members. In partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we are confronting these challenges head-on, offering solutions to the mental distress and anguish that comes from young voices in our community.

    If you are living with a mental health condition, sharing your story can be a powerful way to support others who may be experiencing similar situations. Simply supporting the people in your life can spread a message of awareness and acceptance. The resources on this page are there to help you lead meaningful, one-on-one conversations, make connections, share your stories, and start your own outreach campaigns.

    Mental Health America is inviting other organizations to join us in spreading the message that mental health is something that everyone should care about by using May is Mental Health Month kit materials and hosting awareness events. NAMI will use the month of May to highlight the healing value of connecting safely, prioritizing mental health, and acknowledging it is OK not to be OK, through NAMI blogs, personal stories, videos, digital toolkits, social media engagement, and national events. At Centerstone, we acknowledge the importance of positive mental health all year long, but we are taking May month to do the most to demonstrate our support of this cause. Last year, the Surgeon General issued a new advisory highlighting the urgency of confronting the nations youth mental health crisis, outlining the unprecedented effects the pandemic has had on mental health for the nations youth and families, and mental health challenges that existed well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

    A recent statement from President Joe Biden in May mentioned isolation, illness, heartbreak, and loss of jobs as contributing factors in declining mental health, along with lack of access to mental health services in challenging times. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that because of social isolation, fear, disruption, grief, and loss the pandemic has caused for so many children, in 2021, ER visits for mental health emergencies were up 31% for children aged 12-17, and attempted suicides were up 51% for girls in that same age range, when compared with 2019 data. Communities of color, frontline workers, healthcare providers, and individuals with eating disorders were disproportionately affected, with the national prevalence of depression more than tripling when compared to 2019. People who suffer from depression, a mood disorder, are at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, and those who suffer from chronic illnesses are more likely to suffer from mental illnesses.

    Nearly 450 million people around the world are now living with mental illness, but almost two-thirds of those who are known to have mental illness never get treatment. Tragically, too, many Americans are ashamed of reaching out for help, or are stigmatized for seeking help. Talking with an individual, making it clear that you are worried about them and want to help, reduces stigma associated with talking about feelings of discomfort. Other organizations are following suit around the world, working to better treat mental illnesses and disorders, end stigma, and build compassion for people suffering from mental illnesses and their loved ones.

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