Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? A mental health disorder is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines. There are over 200 classified forms of mental illness but some examples include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. Every year, about 42.5 million American adults suffer from some sort of mental illness.
Mental Health Awareness Month was founded in 1949 by the Mental Health America organization. Every year during the Month of May, many different organizations (NAMI, MHA, NHA, etc.) run different activities which are based on the theme of that given year. This year’s theme is Life with a Mental Illness. According to the Mental Health America organization’s website, the purpose behind this year’s theme is to call on individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures, and videos. They are encouraged to use the hashtag #mentalillnessfeelslike or submit their work to the MHA website (anonymously, of course). The posts will be collected and displayed on a special page on the MHA website. The MHA believes that posting the hashtag will allow people to speak up about their own experiences, share their points of view with individuals who may be struggling with the same illness, and help others figure out if they are showing signs of a mental illness.
Mental illnesses are very common and there are many symptoms that go along with the different disorders. Because there are so many, it’s hard to pinpoint definite symptoms for all of them together. Some of the more common symptoms include: confused thinking, prolonged sadness, feelings of extreme highs and lows, excessive fears, worries and anxieties, social withdrawal, dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits, strong feelings of anger, delusions, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, numerous unexplained physical ailments, or a growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities.
Living with a mental illness is a struggle that many people will experience firsthand or through a friendship or family member. If you want to learn more about mental health disorders, go to nami.org or mentalhealthamerica.org. If you think that you or someone you know may have a mental health disorder, contact your doctor right away. Whether you’re struggling with a mental health disorder, know someone who is struggling, or just want to help, remember that you are not alone. Together, we can all raise awareness for mental health and fight the stigma that comes along with these disorders.