May is mental health awareness month. There are so many causes and awareness campaigns, but this one is pretty close to my heart because of the people I love that struggle with mental health, and because of my own anxiety disorder.
Mental health awareness is so important because of the stigma that goes along with mental disorders. Even though, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults experience a mental illness in a given year. One in four. Yet as a society, we still have negative attitudes about those that struggle with this. That’s absurd.
Stigma doesn’t just make people feel bad, even though that is a big part of it. People feel isolated because their friends, family, and co-workers might not accept them. People lose confidence in themselves, or worry that they will never be able to succeed because of their illness.
It also makes people reluctant to seek treatment because they’re worried that people will find out. When I first started going to counseling, I was so worried that someone would see my car there, or someone would find out somehow. Then I realized how absolutely ridiculous that was; why would I want to be friends or spend time with someone who is that close-minded? And much like being out as an atheist, it’s important for me to be out as someone who has a mental illness so that people can see that it’s not just dangerous, violent people that have them. It’s everyday people that function well in and contribute to society, and it’s a lot of them.
So what am I doing in May to help the cause? Green is the color assigned with mental health awareness. I will be rocking a lot of green, as well as lime nails all month long. If we’re connected on Facebook or Twitter, be prepared to see a lot of statistics and facts about mental illness shared. I also am going to try to work with some organizations that I’m involved in to see if they’re willing to work towards promoting mental health awareness as well. In addition, I’m going to continue to be open about my anxiety disorder, as I truly believe that being open and out are the best ways to spread awareness.
I hope that you’ll join me in reducing the stigma.