Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Whether or not you are struggling with a diagnosed mental illness, this month can be a reminder of the importance of shifting the narrative around mental illness, as well as caring for your own mental health.
According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults were struggling with a mental illness in 2020. The World Health Organization found that rates of anxiety and depression increased by 25% globally since the start of the pandemic. In my own experience as a therapist, I have seen a dramatic increase in need from the community, as well as an increase in symptoms for those who were struggling prior to the onset of the pandemic.
Shame, stigma and lack of resources all act as barriers to treatment. Over the past 10 years, I have seen more efforts to decrease shame and stigma. However, I notice that people still struggle with these feelings. It will take time for societal and individual beliefs about mental illness to change, but I hope that we are moving in a more educated, compassionate and understanding direction.
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month is “Together for Mental Health,” hosted by NAMI. You can find ways to join the movement to advocate for more awareness of mental health issues, as well as advocating for increased resources for those who need them.
And while you’re advocating to decrease stigma and increase resources, don’t forget to take this month to care for your own mental health as well! There are so many great ways to do this, but you can even start with the basics: try to get good sleep, move your body, spend time with loved ones and engage with things that matter to you and bring you joy. Your mental health is too important to neglect.
Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.
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