Mental Health Awareness Month – “Stamp out Stigma”

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mental health awarenessTalk about it! This is such an important message to share. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, be brave and courageous and share your symptoms with a medical professional.  May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we as a society need to “Stamp Out” the stigmas related to people who suffer from mental health issues and their loved ones.

Despite the fact that the conversation is slowly starting, it is way past time that we should be open and honest with each other in our daily lives – both in conversations and interactions. Mental health problems are prevalent. They are real. They affect our world and personal lives. Think about all the suffering and tragedies that might be able to be prevented if we just talked about mental health the way we do other diseases or problems in our lives?

Unfortunately, mental illness issues are something that most people tend to keep to themselves or talk about in hushed whispers and behind closed doors – too often brushing it under the rug.  The people in need don’t ask for help or support because they are ashamed or embarrassed. Mental health sufferers habitually choose to not share the real truth about themselves or their loved ones because of the intense stigmas attached. Unless you have suffered or have had loved ones who have from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, OCD or some other type of mental issues or illness, – you might have a difficult time understanding. I mean, it’s not cancer. It’s not diabetes. It’s all something in your power to stop, right?

Actually, it’s not really that easy, because if it were, trust me – those who suffer from mental illness would stop it. Nobody would purposely put themselves through such pain and misery, or witness a loved one struggling if they could completely control their symptoms or situations on their own.  Please be patient with yourself or others. You/they need support.

Yes, there are many things you CAN control and ways you CAN help the status of your mental health. Many people, though, need support from their loved ones, friends, and medical professionals to help them get through their darker days and beat the intrusive thoughts that they might be having. And you/they CAN feel better.

hope

Some ways you can help yourself or encourage a loved one dealing with mental illnesses:

1.)  Exercise daily, even a brisk walk will help. This has been proven to be one of the most beneficial steps you or a loved one can take to help your mental status.

2.)  Spend time in nature.  Get the sunshine on your skin!  (Buy a SAD lamp for wintertime if you don’t have one.  They not only help with depression but anxiety as well.)

3.)  Eat foods rich in serotonin (turkey, bananas, nuts, seeds, etc.)

4.)  Drink a lot of water.

5.)  Get sleep.  Sleep makes a world of difference.

6.)  Keep a gratitude journal.

7.)  If you are spiritual – pray, mediate.

8.)  Find ways to reduce stress.

9.)  Limit caffeine.

10.)  Talk about it to friends and family, and most importantly a medical professional.  You are not alone.  There is hope.  Sometimes that means going to a therapist on a weekly basis, and sometimes it means going on medication to help regulate your brain chemistry…and that is perfectly okay.  You would seek help for other medical concerns and this is no different.

Remember, whether you or your loved one is currently struggling with mental health issues, you do have support available. Talk about it. Ask for help. You are worth it. Life is worth it. Your family and children are worth it. Things will get better.

you are not alone

Here are ways you can get help and support locally:

NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Franklin County –

www.namifranklincounty.org

Mental Health America of Franklin County –

http://mhafc.org/

Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Board of Franklin County –

www.adamhfranklin.org

Ohio Mental Health Addiction Services

http://mha.ohio.gov/

The PEER Center – Peers Enriching Each Other’s Recover

http://thepeercenter.org/

Suicide Prevention Services

http://suicidepreventionservices.org

Also, if you have children who suffer from mental health issues, obviously consult with your pediatrician first. Take their feelings seriously and be proactive. Here are some additional resources that might be helpful:

DIFD – Do It For Daron

www.difd.com

Mind Your Mind

http://mindyourmind.ca

Author Dawn Huebner (Ph.D) and Bonnie Matthews series on “What to Do when…”

Their books focus on OCD, worry/anxiety, anger, etc. These are great resources to use with your children.

Free Spirit Publishing has numerous resources for parents and children on topics ranging from learning disabilities to perfectionism, to bullying, to many other topics your child might benefit from reading about with you.

The American Girl Series of books have some great resources on friendships, taking care of your well-being, etc.

Also, if you have a child who is officially labeled, or you believe is “gifted and talented,” SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) is an excellent resource for information and support.

Be strong and courageous – get help!  Have hope.  Things WILL get better if we talk about mental health needs.  Help “stamp out stigma!”

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi amy, this is Risako. Loved your article ! My friend is suffered from panic attack and had to cancel a ticket to Ohio recently. Her kids and she were planning to stay in summer partly because I thought this environment might help her.. But she is now under professional treatment in Japan and hoping to recover in a few years. I am supporting that we need to talk about it more. Thanks

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