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 healthcare.

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. That is something incredibly powerful and compassionate that we can offer those we love with little effort. It makes all the difference.

I want to end the post on that note, but also had to mention some cool things going on for National Mental Health Month:

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a campaign going on called #CureStigma. They have a short 3 question quiz to determine if you might be infected with stigma. At the end of it if you give them your e-mail they will send you a “Sentimoji” pack with adorable gifs like this:


Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center has a Happiness Calendar with links each day to learn more about mental health and how to live a happier life.

Mental Health America’s theme for this month is Fitness #4Mind4Body and they have this neat toolkit you can download with fact sheets on how physical health affects mental health and worksheets to help you make life changes.

NAMIWalks is this September 15th at 4PM. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk is September 22nd at 11AM. I’ll be making a team for Backwards is Better in the next month. Keep an eye out if you’d like to walk with us or donate.

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