In the United States, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year, and 1 in 6 youth aged 6 – 17 experience a mental health disorder each year. Anyone who suffers from mental illness must cope with not only the disease but oftentimes the stigma associated with it. This stigma may prevent an individual from seeking the appropriate treatment and ultimately making attempts at symptom self-management impossible.
There are so many facets and complexities of mental illness, it is hard for family members to understand how to help. Family and friends are affected by chronic emotional stress and worry associated with caring and trying to help their loved ones suffering from symptoms of mental illness.
In an effort to bring awareness to the need for improved care for those who have a mental illness, May 2020 has proclaimed to be Mental Health Awareness Month. There has been a commitment by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to expand funding for support of community services in each State. Considering the limitations mandated by the current pandemic, telehealth services are ramping up to allow access to professionals and the appropriate mental health treatments as well as crisis intervention. A much needed three-digit suicide hotline has been proposed to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Initiatives are also being promoted to aid Veterans such as the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) program to provide evidence-based tactics in preventing veteran suicide. Although these are encouraging improvements, more can and must be done to assist those with mental health disease.
Initiatives to promote awareness and decrease the stigma of mental illness must be a strategic goal for each community. Although we currently are working through the pandemic crisis and it is the primary issue in healthcare today, the hope is that we, as a country, strive to do more to bring mental health to light and share knowledge of how to improve the quality of care for this vulnerable population. Small changes can make an unprecedented impact on supporting those who have chronic mental health diseases.
Mental Health Resources