Health/Wellness

Mental Health Awareness Month

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You may be aware of the fact that May is Mental Health Awareness Month but did you know that 1 out of 5 Americans are affected by mental health conditions (Nami.org)? This equates to 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers, and 13% of children each year (Christian Mental Health Services). The more startling fact about these numbers is that this is only what is reported. What about the individuals who never seek help, it’s definitely more than a handful! Even more startling, only half of the percentages I aforementioned actually receive treatment. So now there is only one third of the population that has mental health issues that are actually doing anything about it. The Stigma attached to mental illness has caused many to suffer in silence, live in an environment of shame, and unfortunately their silent cry for help falls upon deaf ears. The popularity of having a therapist has seemingly sky rocketed however, the unwillingness to get the necessary help for those who are suffering from more serious conditions related to symptoms from diagnosis such as psychosis, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and episodes of suicidal ideation are the individuals who need it most. Untreated mental illness can contribute to higher medical expenses, fewer employment opportunities, and increase risk of suicide and homicide. 

Christian Mental Health Services defines Mental Illness as being a “physical illness of the brain that causes disturbances in thinking, behavior, energy or emotion that make it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of life”. The percipitated causes can be one or a combination of many: genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, experiencing trauma and/or having another medical condition, etc. 

More importantly I wanted to get more information about how mental health issues affect women since we are the nurturers, cooks, carpoolers, soccer moms, doctor mom, wives, dance moms, supermoms, etc. Research suggests that women are about 40% more likely than men to develop depression and twice as likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder compared to only 4% of men. This cannot be written off to hormonal issues or genetic gender differences. Psychiatrists equate this increased difference to discrimination, inequality, trauma, and stressful life experiences. Experts explain that trauma is common among women and that half of all women experience some form of trauma during their life (psychology today).  Furthermore, one in four women have faced an attempted or completed sexual assault, and one in three report being abused by a domestic partner.  Trauma is unfortunately a risk factor for a host of mental illnesses. The challenges of gender discrimination and inequality, gendered violence, and mistreatment of women. Research continues to consistently show that women do the bulk of the housework and childcare even if they have a full-time job. Statistics also report that women continue to complain that they have to work harder to get the same credit as men even though the wage gap will never close.  So being in a work environment that is commonplace to sexual harassment, discrimination, that houses an ongoing gender wage gap, and a “that-a-boy” attitude for sup-par male performance is enough to create a highly stressful atmosphere that will pull at the coat strings of any woman’s coping skill mechanisms and self-esteem. This can very easily spiral into depression. If you add pregnancy, birth, and parenting to the equation, there’s a whirlwind of emotions that can take any woman on an emotional roller coaster.

Support those you know who may be experiencing issues. Help that person break down the barriers by showing them respect and acceptance. Be an advocate in your circle; involve members of your church, school and community to help a friend of family member. Learn more about mental illnesses so you can become educated and understand what your loved one is going through.  There are many resources available with your physician, church, and online: 

psychologytoday.com

nimh.nih.gov

nami.org

pinerest.org/mental-health-awareness

mentalhealth.gov

 thenationalcouncil.org/mental-health-month

mentalhealthamerica.net/may   (they offer an online tool kit that I have attached below) 

Download Toolkit 

The Toolkit

In this year’s toolkit, you will find a range of materials, including:

  • Fact sheets on how mental health is affected by diet and nutrition, sleep, stress, gut health, and exercise;
  • Worksheets on making life changes;
  • A promotional poster, sample social media posts with images, and web banners;
  • A sample press release and a drop-In article; and a sample proclamation for public officials to recognize May as Mental Health Month and the work of local mental health advocates.

University of Michigan Alumni. Master’s in Business Administration and Health Care Management. Currently working on a Doctoral Degree in Health Administration. Samira is happily married, living in Texas with her husband and two beautiful twin daughters.

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