May is National Mental Health Month

This month, people all over the country will be working to spread awareness about mental health issues and the benefits of mental health treatment.  At the forefront of this effort is Mental Health America, the oldest community-based network committed to helping people live mentally healthier lives.  Since 1949, Mental Health America has been celebrating National Mental Health Month in May and encouraging everyone to become advocates for important changes to mental health policy and to help raise awareness about mental health conditions.

There are two themes selected for this year’s awareness and educational effort that may resonate with parents, teenagers, and families.

The first theme is Healing Trauma’s Invisible Wounds.  This part of the campaign focuses on how traumatic events can impact people and the larger community.   In many cases, traumatic events can have an overwhelming, often lifelong effect on the physical, emotional, and mental well being of those involved.  It isn’t uncommon for survivors and those around them to forget that the impact can be lasting after the exterior wounds have healed.  Raising awareness about how significant the impacts can be and how therapy can help is the goal of this part of the campaign.

For parents, understanding that trauma is more than just physical injury and that all trauma can leave lasting damage that needs to be treated can give them the information they need to get help for their child.

Traumatic events come in many shapes and sizes and go far beyond those circumstances that result in physical trauma.  According to the Healing Trauma’s Invisible Wounds literature, there are several different kinds of trauma including:

  • Interpersonal Violence including physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, and bullying.
  • Social Violence including terrorism, war, and living under an oppressive political system.  This also includes the trauma experienced by serving in combat.
  • Natural Disasters including hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and floods.
  • Accidental Causes like automobile accidents, sports injuries, or other serious injuries sustained under accidental circumstances.
  • Chronic Social Stress including being a victim of racism, sexism, poverty, or cultural problems.
  • Childhood Trauma which includes being neglected, having a parent who is an alcoholic or drug addict, living in a home where domestic violence is present, the loss of a parent, and being the victim of physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse.

Healing the wounds that traumatic events leave behind is critical in order to help survivors develop healthy coping mechanisms and behaviors.

The second theme is Do More for 1 in 4.  This part of the campaign seeks to increase awareness about the prevalence of mental health conditions amongst U.S. adults.  This call to action aims to inspire people to help the 1 out of every 4 adults who live with a diagnosable mental health condition to get the treatment they need and live the life they deserve.

For parents, understanding how mental health conditions can impact their teens and adolescents, and being open to getting adolescents the help they need early on in their life, can drastically change the course of their lives.

Join us in celebrating Mental Health Month and get involved.  Visit Mental Health America for more information.

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