According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a type of mental health condition at some point during their lifetime. This statistic extends even further, as nearly every individual can form a connection to mental health awareness through the experiences of friends or family.
We all have mental health. The concept is defined by The World Health Organization (WHO) as, “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
WHO continues in stressing that health is not merely “the absence of disease or infirmity,” and that the concept of well-being extends much further beyond our physical wellness. Social and emotional factors must also be considered in the larger picture of how all forms of wellness interact to produce the notion of a healthy individual.
Worldwide, millions of individuals struggle with the effects of mental health conditions on a daily basis. WHO estimates that the statistics stands around 450 million, according to the most recent research.
Since 1949, Mental Health America has declared the month of May to be Mental Health Awareness Month, or simply Mental Health Month. In an effort to reduce the continued stigmas associated with mental illness, the organization provides increased resources and structures campaigns that are specific to the current issues surrounding the field of mental health.
This year’s theme focuses on the signs and signals that could indicate an underlying mental illness. Many of the signals mentioned include some form of drug misuse—a fact that correlates closely with the growing epidemic of prescription pill abuse, among other illicit substances.
To raise awareness of these warning signs, the campaign encourages a larger conversation with the public about an issue that, even in today’s society, is often discussed behind closed doors.
MHA includes a list of 31 tips to boost your mental health, which can be found here.
The most important discussion at play in this month of awareness is an ongoing dialogue with one’s self—as checking in regularly with your emotional and mental well-being can provide a stepping stone to creating a plan of maintenance and forming a clearer path to full-picture wellness along the way.