Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949, reaching millions of people in the United States through the media, local events, and screenings.
Its purpose is to raise awareness and educate the public about: mental illnesses, such as the 18.1% of Americans who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder; the realities of living with these conditions; and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness. It also aims to draw attention to suicide, which can be precipitated by some mental illnesses. Additionally, Mental Health Awareness Month strives to reduce the stigma (negative attitudes and misconceptions) that surrounds mental illnesses. The month came about by presidential proclamation.
Common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes
- Thinking about suicide
Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions
- Changes in school performance
- Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
- Hyperactive behavior
- Frequent nightmares
- Frequent disobedience or aggression
- Frequent temper tantrums
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor.
If you or someone you know needs helps now, you should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255.
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