As we work toward normalizing mental health issues, it is very important that we put forth these efforts not only in the month of May, but each and every day…
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. Think of the closest people to you, think of yourself, do you know that 1? Is it someone you love? Is it you? Mental health is something that is very delicate and sensitive to many people so it is important that we familiarize ourselves with facts, statistics, and proper ways to help ourselves and others grappling with it.
It’s worth noting that half of all mental health disorders begin by age 14, and three-fourths before age 25. This is something that goes beyond nervousness before a test, sadness after a break-up, or anger as a result of added up inconveniences. For too many, mental health awareness is a matter of life and death. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, suicide is one of the leading causes of death for those aged 15-24. In the United States, we see more than 45,000 deaths by suicide per year; most of which are committed by people who have a diagnosable mental disorder.
Talking about these things can be uncomfortable, difficult, and even scary. But the more we normalize the realities others experiences, the sooner we can end the stigma and hopefully help support those that struggle with mental health disorders.
So what does support look like:
- Listen. Let those who have mental health issues confide in you with no judgement, no interruption, and no time constraint. You never know when you’ll end up being someone’s lifeline.
- Never try to diagnose. It is important to remember that you are here as a support system, not a doctor. Second guessing or undermining their feelings is not an appropriate measure to take.
- Talk about healthy practices. People struggling with mental disorders can at times lose sight of overall well-being. Suggest and help them practice positive strategies such as exercise, well-balanced diet, eliminating substances, etc.
- Offer your support for seeking professional help. It is beneficial to have a basic understanding of resources out there for those with mental health issues, and to offer your support as they try and navigate a professional plan of action.
- Ask them what they feel would help them in that moment. Mental disorders are different for each individual that deals with them, therefore their needs will also be different. Cater what you give someone to what they think would suit them best.
- Reassurance. In times of poor mental state, it is common for people to feel hopeless, undeserving, and unloved. Reassurance of their value, their importance to this Earth, and that things can and will get better go a long way.
The lists of ways to support those in need during a mental health crisis extends beyond what is stated above, research and knowing your audience will be key.
Unfortunately, it is far less common for people to open up regarding the issues they face, which is why it is so important to not only end the stigma, but to know the signs that someone is struggling:
- Loss of interest in things they once loved
- More tired, irritable, and tense than usual
- Loss of appetite
- Fast-paced breathing or noticeable anxiousness
- Repetitive thoughts or actions
- Inexplicable, abrupt changes in mood
- References to suicide or no longer wanting to go on
Again, the list of signs extends and varies from person to person. If you are suspecting you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health issues, the best first course of action is to reach out to someone. Mental illness plays horrible tricks on us and will allow us to feel that we are alone, when in fact, we are far from it.
Throughout the month of May, be extra aware, extra considerate, and extra kind. Be an ally. Offer your support, your love, and your understanding. Do what you can to make a difference. 1 in 4 people experience these issues, over 45,000 take their lives because of it, and together we can change it. Together we can End The Stigma.
Here are a list of national and local resources if you or a loved one are experiencing mental health issues:
- The Nami Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org
- 24/7 Crisis Text Line: Text NAMI to 741-741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- National LGBTQ+ Helpline: 1-888-843-4564
- The Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
- The Georgia NAMI Helpline: 770-408-0625
- Georgia Crisis & Access Line: 1-800-715-4225
- United Way of the CSRA: 706-826-1495 (or 2-1-1)
Remember that you are not alone. You are loved. You are needed. Never be afraid to reach out in times of need, and beyond the month of May let’s continue to fight to #EndTheStigma