Today, May 4, is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, part of May’s Mental Health Awareness Month recognition, an opportunity to remind everyone that mental health is real, and something we all should care and learn more about.
In all, 10 million Americans suffer from a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Unfortunately, approximately 60 percent of adults and 50 percent of adolescents with mental illness do not get the treatment or other services they need. As a result, instead of receiving ongoing expert psychiatric care, these individuals often find themselves in emergency rooms, prisons, or living on the streets.
So May is a time to help raise awareness of the issue and to battle the stigma that many still attach to associate with the disease. It’s a cause close to our core at Family & Children’s Place.
Every day, like so many other agencies and entities, we strive to help people better understand mental illness and to look for opportunities to help those with mental health issues. For example, our PAL Coalition offers regular Mental Health First Aid trainings to increase participants’ understanding of mental health issues and treatments, how they can recognize when someone they know is experiencing symptoms and what they can do to help.
The next training is May 26, and you can learn more and register here.
During May – and throughout the year – we must all strive to support those dealing with mental health issues, remain committed to hope and healing, and do what we can to create the kind of change that will provide solutions, not stereotyping.
Mental Health Awareness Month has been recognized since 1949, and this year’s theme is “Risky Business,” with the goal is to educate people about habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves. These include risk factors such as risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet addiction, excessive spending, marijuana use, and troublesome exercise patterns.
The belief is that by raising awareness of the risks these types of behaviors present – especially to young people – we can help people who may be struggling to detect early warning signs and seek help.
Specifically for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, the Trump Administration, along with more than 160 organizations and 1,100 communities, will give special recognition awards to Awareness Day Honorary Chairpersons and U.S. Olympic champions Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt for speaking openly about their behavioral health challenges and for encouraging young Americans to lead healthy lives.
By sharing their stories, Phelps and Schmitt demonstrate that mental health issues can affect anyone at any time, that even individuals at the peak of physical health and performance may suffer emotional and mental duress and stress.
No one should suffer in silence and solitude. During Mental Health Awareness Month, we all need to help advocate, inform, and educate, to ensure better answers for the millions of Americans who need mental health services and their families.