May is Mental Health Awareness Month. With this year’s theme being “Cure Stigma,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness is running a campaign on curing stigma. Stigma is the virus that is spreading across American, although it may not affect you, it prevents the 1 in 5 Americans with mental health conditions from seeking help.
Today our youth are struggling with depression, stress, anxiety and at times, turning to alcohol and drugs as a way to cope. According to NAMI, 75% of all chronic mental health conditions begin before the age of 24. This information, combined with research that shows that the younger our youth use substances, the likelihood that they will experience substance related issues increases, means addressing the stigma of mental health is more important than ever.
We know that there is a shortage of mental health services in the State of Iowa and the wait time can seem like a lifetime. Mental illness can affect those around them and can cause distress among their family. As a community, we need to come together to support these families and individuals struggling with mental health issues. There is not an easy cure for mental illness, but there is a cure for stigma. You can help cure stigma through compassion, empathy, and understanding.
Visit www.nami.org to take the stigma free pledge and gain a better understanding of mental health illness. Help is available, if you or someone you know may be struggling with substance abuse and mental health visit www.asac.us.
By: Lindsey Elam, Certified Prevention Specialist