May is Mental Health Awareness Month
by Barb Goodrich

Mental Health Awareness Month was first celebrated in 1949. Since then, a theme is selected each year to be highlighted and celebrated throughout the month of May. This year’s theme - “Together for Mental Health” – is a wonderful message that we need to come together and raise public knowledge of mental health disorders, reduce the stigmas associated with them, and foster positive attitudes towards seeking help. Awareness also helps people understand that mental illness is NOT a character flaw but rather an illness like any other, and affects millions of people.

Mental illness is a term used to describe mental health conditions that impact mood, thinking, and behavior. These disorders may interfere with a person’s ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. Common mental illnesses include:
· Mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, etc.)
· Psychotic disorders (schizophrenia, etc.)
· Anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety, PTSD, phobias, etc.)

Understanding more about these common mental disorders will further reduce discriminatory practices, create greater acceptance across communities, and leave those who suffer from mental illness feeling comfortable sharing their stories.

The more the general population knows about mental illness and its symptoms, the easier it will be for them to identify people who may be struggling and get them the care they need.

Many struggle in silence. Therefore, EDUCATE yourself about mental health. TALK about mental health. Having better knowledge about mental health will help you understand where others are coming from and how to interact with them in a compassionate, helpful manner. Everyone’s mental health needs to be taken care of now so there is a better tomorrow for our future generations.
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