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What Is Mental Health Awareness Month?
Mental Health America, then known as the National Association for Mental Health, started the idea of Mental Health Month in 1949. The concept has since then seen tremendous response from people and has helped the organization to reach larger groups of people. Various other organizations interested in mental health join hands with Mental Health America to successfully promote the event.
Every year, Mental Health America releases guidelines of toolkit materials needed for the preparation of Mental Health Awareness Month. During the month of May, the organization and its affiliates conduct numerous activities that are based on a chosen theme that is different for each year. However, it is not the only organization to organize a campaign during May. Various other organizations conduct similar awareness observances coinciding with the Mental Health Awareness Month.
Why Mental Health Awareness Month?
Mental illness is often pushed aside by people who have little or absolutely no knowledge about the issue. A person who is mentally ill and is not in a good state of mind is considered different which further downs their morale and makes them hide their condition from everyone including their family. This can degrade their health which may result in higher medical expenses in the future, loss of concentration, change in behavior, depression, and possibly a mentality that can push them to suicide.
Mental Health Awareness Month has the sole purpose of raising awareness about mental health conditions and fuse confidence in the patients so that they can open up about the issue. This can help the affected people and their families to seek medical attention at the earliest so that the patients can be recovered easily. The campaign also focuses on reaching out to those with limited resources so that they also know when a fellow colleague, a neighbor, or even a family member needs help. Additionally, it is also aimed towards reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.
Some facts about Mental Illness
Mental health conditions affect millions of Americans each year. The month of May is dedicated to those who are too afraid to open up and to promote the policies that are crucial for supporting the mentally ill as well as their families. Let’s know some quick facts about mental health:
The United States has a huge budget for the Mental Health Industry
Nearly 5.6 percent of the overall health budget of the United States is spent on mental health-related plans and endeavors. That’s roughly $113 billion! And although the amount is big, the US stands in the average category considering the budget dedicated to mental health by other developed countries. Egypt, for example, spends 9 percent of its health budget to tackle mental health cases in the country.
Children and Adolescents
Every one in five children and teenagers is a victim of mental illness. It may be a shocker for people who think the condition can only affect adults.
Mental Health Funds Are Used For Prescription Drugs
Inpatient treatment started fading after the 1960s as more States focused on achieving quick recoveries and protect the patient’s civil liberties. The trend of outpatient treatment is so much that it has worsened the situation rather than improving it for the people. As a result, more people with mental health are appearing in jail and homeless shelters. Statistics also show that 26 percent of homeless adults and 20 percent of the state prisoners are living with a serious mental illness.
Mental health services in the United States have now reached more Americans. Recent policy changes and more people expanding Medicaid caused the increase in access to insurance and treatment. However, it is also true that most Americans still lack access to care as a large number of mentally ill patients do not receive proper medical attention. America has a serious shortage of mental health workforce as compared to primary-care and dental health care. Due to the lack of medical professionals, treatments are often delayed.
The leading factor of disability is depression. This mental disorder can infuse negative thoughts about one’s own self which may reach severe cases where people feel worthless and even commit suicide as a result. The statistics are even more horrific. Suicide causes 800,000 deaths every year which means, every 40 seconds, 1 person dies from suicide. It is also the second most leading cause of death in the age group 15-29 years.
Stigma Associated With Mental Health Is Its Biggest Enemy
If we keep aside the massive health budget and the efforts being put every single day by people to tackle this nationwide crisis, there is one thing that still needs immediate attention. The disgrace and attitude of people regarding mental health. In a study conducted to better understand this, it was revealed that around 66 percent of the mentally ill chose not to seek medical attention as it would get better on its own or they want to solve it all by themselves.
It Reduces Your Lifespan
A study found that people who have severe cases of mental illness have a life expectancy less than the normal population. Approximately 10-20 years less than a healthy individual.
Women Are Ahead Than Men
Women patients are more likely to seek medical attention than men. While the percentage depends highly on age and ethnicity, it is observed than women are twice as likely to seek treatment for mental illness. However, with no plausible explanation to back those stats, experts are likely to believe it is because of the societal norms encouraging women to be aware of their emotional needs.
Mental Health Awareness Month has been around for decades now. However, what we have failed to achieve is the fact that people still overlook the deadly consequences of a bad mental state. Also, it is not the job of such organizations alone to spread knowledge and educate people about mental health. We must come together and support such initiatives by forwarding the information and help those in need. The change must start with us.