May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States since 1949. This day began on behalf of Mental Health America, an organization created by Clifford Whittingham Beers who was a Yale graduate that suffered from psychological distress that placed him in private and state mental institutions. This led him to his work on the reforming and redefining of treatment for the mentally ill.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH, one in five American adults live with a mental illness.
It is important to recognize that mental illnesses can range in severity from mild to moderate to severe, and sometimes individuals suffering from mental illness may never actually show physical signs of the illness.
Suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With over 47,000 deaths caused by suicide as of 2017 alone, suicide remains the tenth leading cause of death nationally, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Among 15 to 29-year olds, suicide remains the second leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
With staggering numbers such as these, it is important for all of us to recognize how crucial it is to maintain our own mental health, as well as to provide support for the mental health of others. An upwards of 60% of American adults living with mental illnesses have not received mental health services within the last year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI.
Much of what hinders individuals the access to proper mental health treatment is the negative stigma placed on those suffering due to the lack of understanding as to what suffering the individual is actually going through.
With comments like “Just look on the bright side of things,” or “Think of everyone who has it worse,” it is hard for those struggling to feel as though their troubles are warranted.
In addition, being invalidated based upon misunderstanding of the illness can cause those suffering to “self-stigmatize,” meaning those who suffer feel ashamed and guilty for feeling the way that they do thus causing them to further isolate and deny treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic.
With that being said, it is time for all of us to take on the responsibility of ending the stigma behind mental illness. Since mental health is such a common illness among adults, there is no reason for us to continue contributing to an ideology that only does more harm than good. Maintaining your mental health is important for all of us, not only those who may be clinically diagnosed.
We must normalize treatment, whether that be through therapy sessions, prescription drugs or simply just peer-to-peer support. We must normalize the discussion of mental illnesses, going further than simply just depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.
Living in such a difficult world filled with atrocities nearly every day, it is already tough enough without the pressure of a mental illness––let us all make the effort to lighten some of that pressure from our peers who suffer by normalizing their condition and normalizing the awareness of resources. Resources are available for all who suffer, regardless of background.
The University offers psychological resources through their Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, located at 2215 E. Street, or through their direct line at 909-448-4105. They also offer a crisis line at 909-448-4650.
The Tri-City Mental Health Services offer services such as clinical support and support groups to the cities of La Verne, Claremont and Pomona. Their wellness center, which offers free support groups, can be located at 1403 N. Garey Ave. in Pomona. Tri-City can also be contacted at 909-623-6131.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours and can be reached at 800-273-8255. There is also a crisis text line, which offers individuals the ability to text with a crisis counselor instead of call, and can be reached by texting “HOME” to 741741.
It is important to understand the resources available when dealing with mental illnesses, and remember that we are never alone. Let us take this month as a reminder that our suffering does not have to be isolated, there will always be help and support available when needed.