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Mental Health Awareness Month is here again, and it's crucial, now more than ever, to explore the struggles, successes, and stories of those who have a mental illness. There still exists an unfortunate stigma regarding mental illness and the effects it has on the population. Working to erase this unfair stigma through education is important. Understanding others and their struggles makes unpleasant stigmas disappear, and educating yourself is an excellent way to relate to others and even assist them in a time of need.

What is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Every May since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has encouraged people to explore the impact of mental health disorders, trauma, pain, and other aspects that affect everyday life. Organized by Mental Health American (MHA), Mental Health Awareness Month offers mental health tools, resources, data, and training.

The tradition continues with the hashtag #youarenotalone.

You Are Not Alone

In May 2021, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Month is ‘You Are Not Alone,’ signaling the importance of connecting with others and helping those in need. This theme tackled the timely COVID-19 pandemic and how to cope with an unprecedented modern crisis. The 'You Are Not Alone' campaign focuses on alleviating negative mental illness symptoms and overcoming them through the power of meaningful social connections. 'You Are Not Alone' focuses on the mental well-being of all.

Mental Health, Coping, and COVID-19

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was a staggering mental blow for many suffering from anxiety, depression, and other disorders. Even those without a history of mental illness found coping skills inadequate for the global crisis at hand.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of our lives. But for some, the challenges have been extra burdensome, stressful, and overwhelming. Add in the consequences we have all experienced, and many find themselves anxious, depressed, or even traumatized. Learning skills to increase resilience to manage the ongoing stress of the pandemic or seeking treatment if you find that you’re struggling is what will help get you through these unprecedented times,” says Dr. James Korman, Chief of Behavioral Health & Wellness at Summit Health.

Coping skills are crucial for effective mental health management—the ability to mentally deal with a crisis can improve quality of life greatly. Building resilience to protect your mental health can make all the difference. Depending on the individual, understanding and coping with challenging situations can differ significantly. For example, some may find writing in a journal or practicing mindfulness to be therapeutic. Others may need regular therapy and medication regimens.

Some crucial ways to bolster coping skills are slight modifications in your daily routine, like limiting screen time (and avoiding upsetting content), reaching out to family and friends, focusing on physical well-being, and seeking professional help. While these methods may be helpful to some, they may prove inadequate for alleviating extreme stress.

There are revealing statistics regarding those who have actually suffered from COVID-19: a third of COVID-19 survivors were diagnosed with a mental health or neurological condition after their COVID-19 diagnosis. Of these mental health diagnoses, depression and anxiety were the most frequent.

Putting Things Into Perspective: A Report on America’s Mental Health

Mental Health America's recent 2021 The State of Mental Health in America includes key findings like:

  • The worsening state of youth mental health, where the severe depression rate is nearly 10%. Young people are the most affected population.
  • Suicide is a genuine and prevalent issue, with suicidal ideation increasing among adults by 0.15% or more than 460,000 people. Again, the youth population is experiencing suicidal ideation at increased rates.
  • A majority of young people, over 60%, have not had needs met regarding their depression.
  • People seeking help increased by a staggering 93% in 2020 from 2019.

In addition to other revealing statistics, MHA's report aims to educate and inform the public, helping the public understand its severity by consulting the data.

Final Thoughts on Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportune time to educate yourself about mental health, listen to those in need, and erase the stigma that mental health carries in the country.

Need professional help?

At Summit Health, we dedicate ourselves to understanding, diagnosing, and treating many mental health disorders. Explore our Behavioral Health and Cognitive Therapy Center services, including treatment options for anxiety disorders, family conflict, insomnia, chronic pain, depression, grief, and loss. Call (908) 277-8900 to schedule an appointment.