Raising awareness and eliminating the stigma of Mental Health

By Tyra Knox
Unite Contributing Writer

Springfield, MO—May is Mental Health Month. I feel however, any month is a good month to learn more about an illness that cripples so many of us every day.
Even though the ribbon color for Mental Health Awareness Month is green, mental illness comes in every color of creation.
World Mental Health Day, observed on October 10th, is another opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.
Raising awareness and eliminating the stigma is såo very important to everyone.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
• In 2017, 41.5% of youth ages 12-17 received care for a major depressive episode but only 35.1% of African American youth and 32.7 of Hispanic youth received treatment for their condition.
• Asian American adults were less likely to use mental health services than any other racial/ethnic group.
• In 2017, 13.3% of youth ages 12-17 had at least one depressive episode, but that number was higher among American Indian and Alaska Native youth at 16.3% and among Hispanic youth at 13.8%
• In 2017, 18.9% of adults (46.6 million people) had a mental illness. That rate was higher among people of two or more races at 28.6%, non- Hispanic whites at 20.4% and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders at 19.4%
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that racial and ethnic minority groups in the US are less likely to have access to mental health services and less likely to use the community health services.
Growing up you may have been led to believe if a person sought out professional counseling, they were “crazy”. I have been told by professionals that 10% may be mentally ill but 90% just needs a safe place and person to vent to.
I would not use the term “crazy”, but I will definitely say we need to find a safe environment we can vent or release in.
With society constantly looking at the negativity on the television, print, Facebook, or even in your neighborhood or home, we need to have ways to positively release.
We don’t have to be a part of every rally for or against. Sometimes we need to regroup for our own health sake. We can’t effectively help someone else when our thoughts and emotions are all over the place.
I want to share just f few tips to boost your mental health according to the Mental Health America (MHA).
• Track gratitude and achievement with a journal. Include 3 things you are grateful for and 3 things you were able to accomplish each day.
• Go ahead and yawn. Studies suggest that yawning helps cool the brain and improves alertness and mental efficiency.
• Set up a getaway. The act of planning a vacation and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks.
• Work your strengths. Do something you are good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task.
Keep it cool for a good night’s sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67degrees Fahrenheit.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”. – Martin Luther King, Jr. Think of something in your life you want to improve, and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction.
I have just listed a few of their 31 tips list. I encourage you to visit their website and read some more. www.mhanational.org/31 tips-to-boost-your-mental-health.
I can warn you that the list has everything from laughing to dancing to leaving your cell phone at home for one day and not even checking your emails. Ouch!
I will close with one tip of my own. Find a safe place, healthy mental person you can talk to and release to. If you can’t find that person close by, please seek out professional help. Get some help for this journey. It is not always another prescription we need, it can be someone to listen to us and aide us until we are back on a happier healthy journey using boundaries as our guide.