Mental health is just as important as physical health, and staying healthy is possible with care and understanding.
We’re not just thinking “pink” this month; we’re also thinking green—the ribbon color that signifies mental health awareness. In October we’ll observe two important dates for mental health awareness: Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 6th-12th, and World Mental Health Day, observed on October 10th.
This year, one in five Americans will experience a mental health issue. Chances are you have a family member or friend who struggles with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another condition that can make it tough for them to live their best life. Perhaps you are one of the more than 46 million Americans who manage mental illness on a daily basis.
Mental Illness Awareness Week
Mental illness affects everyone—directly or indirectly—according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and that’s why the organization works to educate the public, fight stigma and provide support during Mental Illness Awareness Week and all year long. NAMI Marion County holds peer-led support group meetings and classes for people dealing with mental health issues and their loved ones. The family support group meets once a month and is designed to help family members develop better coping skills, share experiences in a safe setting, learn not to judge others’ pain, embrace humor and understand that mental health conditions are no one’s fault and can be traumatic experiences.
“When someone is dealing with mental illness, we are too,” explains Ocala therapist Carol Jordan, Ph.D., L.M.F.T. “NAMI is a caring, proven and valuable resource. They are available to everyone and everyone is vulnerable to issues pertaining to mental health.”
NAMI also works to fight stigma and misunderstanding about mental illness. Their #CureStigma campaign and StigmaFree pledge urge Americans to “change the way the world sees mental health,” put an end to stigma and create hope for those affected by mental illness by encouraging acceptance and understanding.
Thomas Pecca, L.M.H.C., C.S.A.T., C.T.T., the senior clinical advisor for The Guest House Ocala, says better understanding of mental illness will help more people seek treatment.
“Unfortunately, the term ‘mental health’ is widely misunderstood and carries a stigma that is undeserved. Millions of Americans suffer from mental health issues, many untreated due to this stigma. Needing help with anxiety, depression, addiction or other issues should be encouraged not demonized.”
For more information on Mental Illness Awareness Week and NAMI’s local support groups and resources, visit www.namiocala.org.
World Mental Health Day
Every year on October 10th, the World Health Organization (WHO) seeks to raise awareness of mental health issues and mobilize efforts in support of mental health. This year they’re focusing on suicide prevention, noting that suicide is a serious public health problem since every suicide is a tragedy that affects families and communities and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. However, the organization believes that suicides are preventable with timely intervention.
WHO explains that people with mental disorders, especially depression and alcohol use, can sometimes decide to commit suicide impulsively in moments of crisis when they feel temporarily unable to deal with life stresses. We all know how challenging it can be to face financial problems, relationship break-ups or chronic pain and illness, but the persistent stigma around mental illness keeps many people from seeking help when they need it. Around the globe, nearly 800,000 people take their own lives every year, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds.
For more information on World Mental Health Day and suicide prevention awareness, visit www.who.int.
Finding out that a loved one is considering suicide can be terrifying for everyone involved, but there are free resources available 24/7. If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. For free and confidential help finding local resources, dial the United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline, text 898-211, or chat online at www.uwmc.org/211.