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Why You Should Care About Mental Health Month

Did you know that 1 in 6 adults in the United States live with mental illness? Or that mental illness in adolescence is rising? Or that support services are struggling to meet the growing demand for mental healthcare?

In some states there are 6 times the individuals needing treatment to 1 mental health professional.

It saddens and angers me that someone who is in desperate need of professional help can reach out only to find there aren’t any providers available because they’re already overloaded.

Imagine how that makes someone who is already convinced they are completely alone and worthless feel? I am grateful we have the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, but there is still a dire need for more accessible mental health resources.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 123 people commit suicide every day. 44,965 each year. For every suicide there are 25 attempts. Here in Chicago the CTA has begun posting signs in hopes to reach those who are struggling before it’s too late:

Image result for national suicide prevention train stops

Even as an advocate I wasn’t aware of how daunting the statistics really are. It’s hard to look at. It’s harder to talk about. There is so much resistance to mental health awareness because stigma is still so strong.

We’re all so immersed in our own struggles that it’s hard to find time to observe and offer support to those around us who are suffering. What can we even do to make a difference?

Ask them how they’re doing. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t be upset, the shame associated with stigma is so strong it can be hard to open up. Let them know how much you care and that you’re there for them if they change their mind.

By simply being present and offering your support, you are proving to them that they are wrong. You are saying to them: You are not alone. It’s something incredibly powerful and compassionate we can all offer those we love with little effort.

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