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mental illness

Take the pledge to be #StigmaFree this month as May is Mental Health Month (MHM) 2016. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is calling on individuals, companies, organizations to take the pledge to inform themselves and raise awareness about mental health disorders. The organization asks that you to:

  • Become informed about mental health.
  • See the person not the illness—strive to listen, understand, tell your story.
  • Spread the word, raise awareness and make a difference.

Mental illnesses are debilitating diseases that can hinder people from living productive lives. While mental health disorders are scientifically accepted medical conditions, they are more times than not viewed in a different light— as if the afflicted has control over the condition. People often say: “If you are depressed, just think happy thoughts” or “If you are anxious, don’t worry—be happy.” Those suffering from a mental illness wish that it were as simple as that, but it simply is not.

Those living with mental health disorders often require intensive behavioral therapy, usually in conjunction with one or more medications. Conditions that live in the mind do not just work themselves out, and go elsewhere. There are not any cures currently in existence for conditions like addiction and depression, but with continued maintenance such conditions can be kept in check. Sadly, a large number of those whose lives are affected by mental illness do not receive any form of treatment for their disorder(s). Much of the reason for this is due to the stigma that is hoisted upon them by society, and even one’s close peers who just can’t wrap their head around an invisible illness.

In fact, only 41 percent of American adults who live with mental illness received treatment for their condition in the past year, according to NAMI. Only 62.9 percent of adults with a serious mental illness accessed mental health services during the same time period. People with mental health conditions that go untreated are at risk of: involuntary hospitalization, incarceration and suicide.

This month, if we come together as a society, we can pull mental illness out of the shadows and into the light where it belongs. If people no longer fear scrutiny and shame, they can get the help they need. You probably have a close friend or a loved one living with mental illness, considering that approximately 1 in 5 adults in this country experienced a mental health disorder every year.

Take the Pledge, End the Stigma.