Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

Article by Lonya Thompson, New Hope’s Manager of Behavior Services

The New Hope Behavior Team would like to remind everyone that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949 to help bring awareness to the importance of mental health and how it affects our emotional wellbeing. Mental Health Awareness Month was created to bring communities together to help eradicate the stigma that has often been associated when someone is seeking mental health treatment. Many people do not seek mental health treatment because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. They instead think they must suffer in silence all alone, due to the fear of how others will perceive them. The purpose of Mental Health Awareness Month is to let everyone know that they don’t have to suffer in silence and that they are not alone. Mental health conditions are more common than most people realize, affecting millions of people worldwide. A mental health condition can have a profound impact on individuals’ lives, but with proper support and treatment, many people can lead fulfilling lives.

Mental Health America reports that nearly 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. They also say 50% of Americans will have a diagnosable mental health condition in their lifetime and half of those adults will have developed their mental condition by the age of 14. Statistics for 2023 show that 55% of adults with a mental health condition have not received any treatment. There are 5.44% of adults who have experienced severe mental illness. Over 12.1 million adults (4.8%) have reported serious thoughts of suicide. This figure more than doubles when surveying adults who identify as two or more races.

Normalizing the conversation around mental health can help stop the stigma that is often attached to mental health, which can prevent people from seeking and obtaining treatment. No one should feel ashamed when they seek treatment for their mental health and in fact, our mental health should be treated with the same importance as our physical health.

The Behavior Consultants at New Hope are advocates for normalizing mental health treatment. Through their work, they continually work to find ways to ensure that both the individuals served and staff know the importance of good mental health. They help ensure our staff have access to resources and information regarding mental health support services within the organization and the wider community. They also strongly emphasize the welfare of staff, promote self-care, advocate for work-life balance, and foster open communication regarding mental health concerns.

New Hope’s Behavior Consultants work to build a healthy rapport with both clients and staff to ensure the team has open communication regarding mental health concerns. They recognize that the job of many of our associates, especially DSP’s, can be stressful at times. Good mental health is key in remaining calm when handling challenging behaviors. Consultants encourage both staff and clients to get exercise and fresh air as walking is a great opportunity to gain both physical and mental benefits. Both staff and clients are also encouraged to play games, listen to music, dance and have fun. Music can make everyday tasks more enjoyable and relieve stress.

Team New Hope, let’s all do our part to remember that Mental Health Awareness Month is a vital opportunity to highlight the importance of mental well-being, reduce the stigma and support those living with mental health conditions. By coming together to educate, advocate and provide resources, we can create a more understanding and supportive world for everyone. Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health, and seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Let’s work together to promote mental health awareness and ensure that no one has to face mental health challenges alone.

References

Mental Health America: www.mhanational.org. accessed May 2024

National Alliance of Mental Illness. Growing Bebe’s Legacy: Empowering minds, erasing, stigma, elevating communities. Accessed May 2024.

Contributors to Article: Adebanke Faleke, Allison Brinegar, Amanda Gibson, Donald Lining, Elaine Krueger, Elizabeth Lemon, Karen Kroger, Lonya Thompson, Lyndi Grubb, Megan Thompson, Terri Gee

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