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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Stigma Free Mental Illness

mental health
May is Mental Health Month 2016 (MHM), a time to raise awareness about mental illnesses which affect approximately 1 in 5 Americans (43.8 million), according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). We have made a number of progressive steps since the beginning of the new millennia, but even in the 21st Century there is still much stigma surrounding mental health disorders, such as addiction, bipolar disorder and depression.

Stigma doesn’t just hurt those living with mental illness, it has a negative impact on society as well. When society shames people about something they have no power over, it keeps them from talking about what they are going through and making the decision to seek help for fear of societal reprisals. When people suffering from mental illness are left untreated, it takes a heavy toll on society in the way of emergency hospitalizations and incarceration—the bills for which are often times assumed by taxpayers.

So if helping people living with mental illness helps the nation, then everyone has an obligation to do their part. Even if you do not suffer from a mental illness, there is an extremely high likelihood that you have someone close to you that does have mental health disorder. NAMI is calling on everyone to end the stigma of mental illness with hope, and you can start by taking the pledge to be #StigmaFree.

If you have a social media account, Facebook or Twitter for example, take some time to post mental health related information in order to raise awareness and break the shackles of stigma that hold people living with mental illness down. Remember to include #StigmaFree and/or #MentalHealthMonth in order to maximize the reach of your posts.

Perhaps you are thinking, “What’s the point?” or “What kind of impact will this have?” You might be surprised to learn how far a little compassion can go, especially when you consider the numbers below courtesy of NAMI:
  • 20.2 million of adults in the U.S experience a substance use disorder.
  • 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (10 million) experience a serious mental illness each year.
  • 18.1 percent of adults in the U.S. experience an anxiety disorder, such as PTSD or OCD.
  • 16.9 million adults had a major depressive episode in the past year.
  • 2.6 percent of adults in the U.S. have bipolar disorder.
  • 1.1 percent of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.
Only 41 percent adults in the U.S. received treatment for a mental illness in the past year.

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