Saturday, April 27, 2013


May is Mental Health Awareness month. The #WhatsYourNumber campaign references a number you can get after taking the screening so you know where you are on the spectrum of mental health.
The idea is perhaps that the more we promote it, the more people who suffer will reach out and get the help they need for themselves, their families and progressively further out, affecting their communities at large. 

The stigma about people who struggle with mental illness is real and prevalent. For example, I myself spent the evening watching What About Bob with my family. Before we started the film, my son asked what it was about and before I could think better of it I had already said, "Oh, it's about a funny, crazy guy." Woops. The point is, even though I work in this field, am very close to people who suffer with this stuff & study it myself, I still contribute to the stigma because it's so culturally part of our/my everyday existence. Like any invasive hobgoblin, it needs to be fought off at first sight with laughter and full light.

Struggling is part of life but life itself should not be a battle. If you are buried in things you cannot see your way out of, please get some help. You don't have to let it get too drastic beforehand. The counseling can be very effective, as can the medicines. Contempt prior to investigation when dealing with mental illness can be a dangerous idea. On behalf of all of us at "May is Mental Health Awareness Month," I urge you to get screened, get help and keep on keepin' on. It's worth it. I promise.

Van Gogh as he might have looked in real life with his famous self portrait.

"Mental illnesses are physical brain disorders that profoundly disrupt a person's ability to think, feel, and relate to others and their environment. They are no fault disorders.

One in every five families is affected at some point in their lifetime by a severe mental illness such a bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and major depression. 

Mental illnesses are “equal opportunity” diseases, occurring in all cultures, races, countries and socio-economic classes.

75% of mental illnesses are treatable with supportive services,counseling, and medication, yet stigma and misinformation are still major barriers to treatment & recovery.

1/3-1/2 of the homeless population has a mental illness. 

90% of persons who commit suicide had a diagnosable mental illness.
Mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes and heart disease. 

Treatment success rates for psychiatric disorders are better than those for heart disease: 
Depression = 85% 
Bipolar disorder = 80%
Schizophrenia = 60%"

(American Psychiatric Association 1997)


  1. Thanks for the reminder. I have been so busy with my social work homework I forgot about mental health, ha ha. I do remember "May is Mental Health Month" from when I worked for the county previously. It is always a good reminder about how the treatment options that are available for mental illness. I think I will pass on getting a mental health test at this particular point in time...I don't think I want to know what the results would be. Environmental/situational stress has to affect the results I would think.

  2. HAHA I love that movie- after a "crazy" day at work I sometimes think I want to go home and watch Awakenings or Girl Interrupted. You would think I get enough of it at work. I have realized- I really missed this population, they need our help more than anyone, and I am obliged to do it. I am surprised some days, saddened some days, inspired to do more for them on other days. Never dull to say the least and thanks for the info :)