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Mental Health – Overcoming the Stigma

Mental illness has become much more discussed in today’s society. However, there is still a stigma, resulting in negative attitudes and stereotypes associated with mental illness. Eradicating the stigma and gaining societal acceptance of people with mental illness must be a top priority in order to improve mental health, worldwide. 

Did you know 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 have, or will be diagnosed with a serious mental illness?

Some of the harmful effects of stigma can include:

•   Reluctance to seek help or treatment

•   Lack of understanding by family, friends, and co-workers

•   Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities

•   Bullying, physical violence or harassment

•   Health insurance that doesn’t adequately cover your mental illness treatment

•  The belief that you’ll never succeed at certain challenges or that you can’t

   improve your situation (self-stigma)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental illness represents the biggest economic burden of any health challenge in the world, costing $2.5 trillion in 2010. Mental illness is projected to cost $6 trillion by 2030 with two-thirds of these costs attributed to disability and loss of work. Shockingly, of the 450 million people worldwide who suffer from mental health conditions, 60% do not receive any form of care, and 90% of people in developing countries receiving no form of care.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and in recognition, Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day was recently proclaimed in Erie, PA to be observed on May 10th each year. Founder of the Family Caregiver Alliance, Tracy Palazzotto said “Children’s Mental Health Awareness means hope that one day a child’s mental health will be just as important as all other health needs. As a parent, our children should not have to feel shame about asking for help or for getting the help that they need.”

Treatment

Treatments for mental health range from simple self-care activities to formal treatment interventions. Each person is unique and needs a specific treatment plan that fits their needs. If formal supports, such as mediation management and therapy don’t seem to work for you, consider peer support or a combination of formal and peer support.

Awareness about the prevalence of mental illness is critical to building a community that accepts, embraces and supports individuals who struggle with unseen disabilities. Awareness encourages education and programming to build social-emotional and resilience skills so that children and young adults can reach their fullest potential. Open and frequent conversations help decrease the stigma associated with mental health challenges that sometimes prevent children and young adults from seeking help. Early identification and connection to formal and natural supports help improve treatment outcomes and the quality of life for individuals who struggle with mental illness.