Mental Health Awareness Month | Overcoming the Stigma, Getting HelpPat Fontana
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. When you are facing the challenges of a mental health issue, you may be hesitant to reach out for help, given the stigma that you may feel. However, overcoming the stigma and getting help are critical steps for your mental and physical health.
Mental Health Awareness
During the month of May and throughout the year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) continues to emphasize their message that “You Are Not Alone” when you are struggling with a mental health issue. The organization encourages everyone to use the designated month, designed to focus on awareness, to also focus on the healing value of connecting in safe ways, to prioritize mental health, and to know that it’s okay to not be okay.
In fact, over half of the adults in the US will need mental health treatment sometime during their life. One in 25 adults is living with a serious mental illness, including bipolar disorder, major depression, an eating disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, just over 11% of adults in the US report that they regularly experience worry, anxiety, or nervousness. Just under 5% report that they frequently experience sadness or symptoms of depression.
Mental Illness and Mental Health
The CDC clarifies that a mental illness, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, or schizophrenia, can affect the way you feel, the way you think, your mood, and your behavior. A mental illness can be an occasional condition, or it can be chronic, which means that it is long-lasting and affects your ability to function as well as to relate to others appropriately.
Mental health is focused on your well-being, socially, emotionally, and psychologically. Your mental health also affects how you act, how you feel, and how you think. It can help determine how you relate to others, whether you are able to make healthy choices, and how you handle stress.
Poor mental health is not the same thing as mental illness. You can have poor mental health and not necessarily be diagnosed with a mental illness. In the same way, you can be diagnosed with a mental illness and still experience brief periods of mental, social, and physical well-being.
Causes of Mental Illness
It’s important during Mental Health Awareness Month to understand that there is not one single cause of mental illness. Many factors can contribute to your risk factors, including:
- A feeling of isolation or intense loneliness
- Early life experiences, such as abuse or trauma
- Adverse experiences related to chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or cancer
- Genetic factors, including whether you have a family history of mental illness
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
- The use and abuse of recreational drugs or alcohol.
Overcoming the Stigma
Getting help for your mental illness can be critical to your mental and physical health. The first step is to overcome the stigma you may feel. When you experience the feeling of stigma, you may have had others in your life treat you differently or view you in a negative way based on your mental health status. While a common attitude, the stigma can and should be overcome so you can get the treatment you need.
Don’t let the stigma create shame and self-doubt. You may have convinced yourself that your condition is a sign of weakness, that you should be able to control it yourself. Connecting with others who are also experiencing mental illness can help you regain your self-esteem and rid yourself of your destructive self-judgement. Safely connecting with others is one of the main themes of the designated awareness month, so you will always know that you are not alone.
Don’t remain isolated. The same sense of shame can keep you from discussing your struggles with others in your life. Reach out and talk to trusted family members and friends about what you are experiencing. They will be there to support you, with compassion and understanding.
Remember that you are not your illness. Practice phrasing your condition in terms of what you have, not what you are. For example, instead of “I am bipolar,” say “I have bipolar disorder.” You have an illness, just like someone who has diabetes or high blood pressure.
Getting the Treatment You Need
Treatment for your mental illness can make a huge difference in how you move through life, interacting with other people and functioning every day. Don’t let other people’s attitudes stop you from getting the help you need. Treatment can provide relief, particularly when you have a solid diagnosis and a plan for reducing your symptoms. You can live a healthy life, mentally and physically!
Contact R&A Therapeutic Partners for Help
At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we support you and your mental health needs, helping you find the path that works best for you. To keep you safe and healthy, we offer in-office and online therapy options during COVID-19. We encourage you to contact the Miami therapeutic consultants Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno to find out the services R&A Therapeutic Partners offers. Call us at 786-452-7352 to schedule your appointment.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.