We've talked the past couple of weeks about how mental health issues can contribute to homelessness and the specific challenges of different types of mental illness. Certainly this is an important part of Mental Health Awareness month, but why is awareness so important?
Mental health issues can affect anyone at any time in their life. Awareness is important for each of us so that we can recognize warning signs and feel comfortable seeking help. It's so valuable to know that you are not alone--and there is nothing wrong with admitting you need help. Millions of people around the world suffer with one or more types of mental illness, it should not be embarrassing to reach out!
For Your Loved Ones:
Awareness can also help you recognize signs and symptoms in friends and family members. People who suffer from mental illness need a strong support system. This may mean finding new ways to relate to or interact with loved ones, or simply knowing when they just need a shoulder to cry on. Awareness helps you create a safe space for those you love to open up and trust you. Your awareness could be the difference in life or death for someone you know.
For the World:
The World Health Organization estimates that one in four people will experience mental or neurological disorders in their lifetime. If we can remember that possibly one out of every four people we run into each day struggles with depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, or any other number of issues, how would that change the way we respond to people? How would it change the amount of patience or compassion we feel toward them? What if one act of kindness could be the thing that prevents someone from going home and ending their life? Our awareness can be the change we want to see in this world.