May is Mental Health Awareness Month - How Can You Provide Support?

Issues related to mental health have a history of being shrouded in silence or heavily stigmatized, shaming individuals from seeking the help they need for fear of being ostracized. Mental Health Awareness Month is dedicated to quashing these stigmas and shining a light on a problem that deserves our understanding and compassion, so you can be a mental health advocate all year-round. Whether you struggle with a mental illness yourself or know someone who does, there are countless ways for you to spread awareness and partake in Mental Health Awareness Month.

Below are some ways in which you can participate:

1.Offer your help to those in need: It is estimated that about 1 out of 5 people will deal with mental health issues during the course of their life. Therefore, chances are high that someone in your life is currently struggling and might not know how to ask for help, or is too afraid to seek it. Make an effort to know what signs to look out for and how you can assist someone struggling with mental health problems.

2.Talk about your own experience: If you are struggling with your own mental health issues or your life has been impacted by it indirectly, you have an experience that is worth sharing with others. Even if you are not comfortable sharing this with people you know, consider speaking with a licensed therapist. It can be empowering and helpful.

3.Be careful with word choice: Language is incredibly powerful and, if you are not careful with the words you select to speak about mental illness, you could be contributing to the stigmas that plague mental health issues. Many individuals refuse to seek help because they are afraid of labeled as “crazy” or “weak,” which are words that are often casually used to talk about mental illness. Take the time to consider what you say when discussing these issues and avoid being part of the problem.

4.Care for yourself: Helping others is near impossible to do if you are battling your own mental health issues, so the best thing you can do for yourself this month and any other day of the year is to take care of yourself first. If you need to, contact a mental health professional or reach out to a treatment center. Help is available to you, so know that you are not alone.

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