Part of the problem with #mentalillness is its #stigma. It is hard to talk about, and when you do, you could be judged or shamed. That’s the sad reality, but this #MayisMentalHealthAwarenessMonth. Now’s the time to bring it up and have those tough conversations — with your #kids, #parents, friends, family, coworkers.
Now is the time we should realize that #mentalillness affects one in five people while serious #mentalillness (SMI) affects one in 20. These numbers are from 2020, and I imagine they will increase in the next couple of years.
The #NationalAllianceonMentalIllness (#NAMI) states that May is for bringing voices together to advocate for #mentalhealth and access to care. The organization does this through the #NAMI blog, personal stories, videos, #socialmedia and national events. (#NAMI Greater Corpus Christi is holding an awareness event near the end of the month. Go to www.namigcc.org.)
#James Donaldson notes:
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
Order your copy of James Donaldson’s latest book,
Celebrating Your Gift of Life:
From The Verge of Suicide to a Life of Purpose and Joy
What I’d like to highlight this month is the disparity between those who have #mentalillness and those who actually receive help. According to #NAMI, about 4.9 percent were unable to access needed care in 2020. About 17 million people experienced delays or cancellations to be seen, and more than seven million had delays in receiving medication.
Even if you do have access to care, it can be very expensive. I don’t mean to discourage anyone from seeking help — you should — I’m just pointing out a huge problem that shoves many through the cracks.
I have struggled with #mentalillness for a long time, and in 2019 I was hospitalized. I was fortunate to go to a private hospital and to afford the medications the #doctors prescribed. One of my medications is $800 each month (before my deductible). That’s insane.
I’m now in recovery, but it came at a literal cost. I have friends who aren’t as lucky, friends who fight #mentalillness every day who can’t afford a #therapist or #psychiatrist. It’s heartbreaking. For them recovery is elusive, and that’s just not fair.
Fortunately, our community has many resources. Matter of fact, I attended a “Call to Action for #MentalHealth” event in late March that brought all the #mentalhealthproviders together, hosted by Leadership Corpus Christi (Class 50) and the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation. Hundreds of people were there representing their agencies and getting to know what resources are available. Our community leaders, including the mayor, county judge and state Rep. Todd Hunter, spoke about #mentalhealthawareness, access to care and programs that could help us. It warms my heart that our leaders recognize the importance here and the fact that #mentalhealth affects everyone. Not everyone is mentally ill, but we need to treat #mentalhealth just as physical health.
Speaking as the communications manager of #NAMI GCC, a lot of the providers work in our silos, not knowing everything that’s out there. The event, which had different panels of professions speaking and answering questions, was eye opening. We all need to work together to get others the help they need. I think the first step following the event was to compile a comprehensive list of providers, making referrals more efficient thus allowing us to serve more community members.
#Mentalhealthcare has no quick fix, but what I experienced after the event makes me see we’re all going in the right direction. That’s amazing.
This May, I urge you to talk about your #mentalhealth (and/or illness) with your loved ones. We raise awareness by sharing our stories, withholding judgment and, sometimes, just showing up. And we need to end the #stigma. The more we talk, the more #mentalillness becomes more normalized.
So keep talking. I know I will.
For more than 20 years, Heather Loeb has experienced major #depression, #anxiety and a #personalitydisorder, while also battling the #stigma of #mentalhealth. She is the creator of Unruly Neurons (www.unrulyneurons.com), a blog dedicated to normalizing #depression and a member of State Rep. Todd Hunter’s #SuicidePrevention Taskforce.
Now more than ever we need to take care of our #mentalhealth. Guest columnist Heather Loeb discusses why and explores other important #mentalhealth topics in this special series.
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: #MayisMentalHealthAwarenessMonth: Here’s why that matters