Mental Health Awareness Month

By: Dayanara A.

Now that it is June, May is completely behind us. However, I don’t know if many are aware that May was Mental Health Month. It is to spread awareness of the mental illnesses that people suffer from.

Millions of Americans struggle everyday living with mental health issues as a daily obstacle. During the month of May, Mental Health Awareness Month shines a light on all the people who are dealing with a mental illness and educates people on the issue that is sweeping the nation. However, Mental Health Month is not only meant for people who have had the experience but it allows people to be enlightened of what the lifestyle would be like.

In the U.S about 1 in 5 adults face the reality of experiencing a mental illness, but the issue of mental health is still often misunderstood. The Associated Press went to the lengths of adding an entry about mental health to the Style Book to broaden journalist’s knowledge and to allow them to write about mental health accurately. The media is partly to blame for this lack of understanding because people who are struggling with mental health problems are illustrated on television as “crazy” or “unstable.”  Television illustrates to their audience that these types of people are a major risk to let loose into society and they can inflict harm on another person because they are uncontrollable. The myth that people with mental illnesses can be widely unpredictable is rare, but it can happen. Nevertheless, people with mental health issues are no more dangerous than people who don’t have it. However, mental illness isn’t quite shown as easily as one might think. It isn’t always quite obvious that a person is carrying this huge weight on their shoulders every day.

People have not begun to fully comprehend what it is like to deal with a mental illness or the many types of mental issues there are. Many remain ignorant and can often offend people with lack of knowledge or empathy to their situation. Starting with one of the most well-known mental illnesses which is depression. Depression isn’t solely being sad because everyone is sad every day. The deciding factor of being depressed is when one feels extreme sadness to the point of feeling worthless that they don’t want to get out of bed, or even continue living. Being happy seems like a pretty easy thing to do because there are many factors that make us happy, but a depressed person may not find the good in their life. So, simply saying “just be happy or smile more” is the same thing as telling an anorexic person to eat more. It is more than just “taking a pill” to help a person overcome their mental illness. Treatments can be different for every person and not one is exactly the same. Some people need medication, some need therapy, and others need a mixture of both. People would stop these behaviors if they could, but they can’t. It is not a choice of living, but it is something that they have to learn to live with.

It is possible that many people know another person with a mental illness but they’re not aware of it. With the use of Mental Health Month, it expands our knowledge regarding mental health issues. Mental illness continues to target a younger audience thus creating a bigger impact on different communities. One may personally not have a mental illness but most likely has a sibling, relative, or friend who has struggled with it. It is the responsibility of our peers to educate people and to spread awareness for the cause that many people are heard of, but remain oblivious to the harsh realities. There is no one definite cause that can lead to mental health issues because it can be biological, life experiences, or a family history of mental illnesses. Even though it is difficult to correctly pinpoint one cause, mental health problems can eventually get better over time.

One big misconception is that people are born with these mental illnesses and that there is no hope that they can recover. Every person is different when it comes to their mental illness, to their treatment, and recovery. Many advancements have continued to improve; thus, many people can get better or even recovery completely. Due to the fact, that people can eventually recover, this means that people can also prevent it. One can prevent it by understanding how an environment, emotions, and experiences can have a huge impact on a person early in life. Long story short, the more knowledge we have about the issue the better it will be to solve it in the long run.

In this day and age, people tend to step away from anything regarding mental health because it might be out of their comfort zone. However, refusing to accept their diagnosis to be true goes against the purpose of Mental Health Month. It is to create awareness to further comprehend these issues and to stump any doubts we have. Many will believe that people with mental illnesses tend to hide behind their diagnosis as use them as excuses. A person dealing with anxiety may worry and stress daily about factors they cannot control, but they cannot be blamed and they shouldn’t have to apologize for being themselves. Labels drive our society apart, and this is one of the main causes that can lead people with mental health issues to be afraid of being themselves.

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