May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental health is something every individual should be aware of, whether we talk about it at a personal level or at a society level. In an attempt to promote more awareness towards the alarming prevalence of mental illnesses, Mental Health America and other affiliate organizations across the country, have established the month of May as the optimum period of the year to focus their forces.
Each year, the Mental Health Awareness Month chooses a different theme in order to put the accent on various aspects of the problem. In 2016, the theme is “Life with a Mental Illness”, and can be interpreted as a loud call for individuals to make a step forward and share their experiences. Social media acts as a powerful medium of accumulation all personal stories, assembling the dominant voice of the awareness movement. There is no shame in being a victim of a mental illness and opening towards others can help you and them.
A mental illness is often a problem the individual battles alone, in isolation from the eyes of society. It is often a shame to admit that a mental condition was behind your apparently strange decision to end a happy marriage or abandon a good job. There is still too much stigma encompassing the individual which is put face to face with an enemy which lies deep within. Being aware of your mental situation, but not willing to seek support and relief, is situation many men and women find themselves.
Contrary to the reality of other medical conditions, the treatment of mental illnesses is more patient related than dependent on a medical procedure. Commitment towards admitting the problem is a first and difficult step few people dare to take. Speaking about a problem is the easiest and most effective way of limiting its negative impact, at least at a psychological level. From this angle, the awareness movement counts on more people joining the effort. Anonymous contributions, although less valuable, are put on an equal position and encouraged throughout the entire month.
Our modern society faces a significant “epidemic” of mental illnesses which many professional voices dare to put next to our fast-paced lifestyle, in which we rush from one task to another without allowing ourselves to get a taste of life in the meantime. Depression is expected to rise to the position of dominant medical condition in the decades to come, at least in high-developed countries where medical contains are quantified more accurately. But depression is only the tip of the spear, the one more vividly portrayed in the media, the one mental illness we can call “trendy”. But problems at a psychological level have a very wide spectrum of symptoms and effects, one that few people are aware of.
Personal example is one of the most powerful forces of our society, able to put in motion energies unable to access otherwise. Everyone hopes that once a critical mass is achieved via adhesion, there is no stopping to the effort that will end with finding a permanent solution. This is the backbone of every awareness movement, which acts as an anchor set in time, to a moment where the solution will become obvious and easy to access.
Awareness movements always reach beyond the people directly affected by the problem in hand. Friends, relatives, and even unrelated individuals, all of them are expected to bring a small contribution to a cause which after all is influencing all of us and life as we know it. Sharing both the successes and the problems of the society is a sign of a responsible community, which acts as monolith, not as a sum of parts.
There are many ways in which you could help make this May the most successful Mental Health Awareness Month. Contributing with your own personal story of how mental illnesses have influenced your life or the life of someone next to you is highly welcome. Sharing the stories of others as well as the call to arms on social networks can show others that you strive to become an active link in the big machinery. Promoting content like banners, useful links, motivational posters, everything helps in its own way. Remember, approaching mental health relief is all about the snowball effect, which makes the first step the hardest.