One of the best ways to reduce the stigma is to learn more about mental illness and celebrate how that awareness can change lives. Separating the truth from the misconceptions can help increase awareness, understanding and acceptance for those living with mental health challenges.
Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrated every year in May. The Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition believes that if you get involved, get informed and spread the word – together we can change the conversation about mental illness. Through these efforts, we hope that people dealing with mental health challenges will know they are not alone, help is available and recovery is possible.
Four Ways to Help Observe Mental Health Awareness Month
1. Get a mental health check-up
Just like physical check-ups, mental health check-ups can be invaluable in detecting mental health problems before they become serious. Consider asking for a simple evaluation from your physician or health professional for you and your family members, or take stock of your health personally. Click here to learn the warning signs.
- Visit a mental health professional. Talk about any troubling symptoms such as excessive anxiety, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, sadness, suicidal or violent thoughts, thoughts of death, appetite or weight changes, and any other signs that you find worrisome or debilitating.
- Keep track of your symptoms. If you suspect a mental health imbalance in yourself or a family member, consider tracking the frequency, severity, and duration of worrisome symptoms until a visit with a counselor or health professional can be arranged.
- Ask for a mental health evaluation. Mental health tests exist for conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder, and many health professionals can also identify potential personality or mood disorders, substance abuse problems, or other conditions that merit further treatment by conducting an initial evaluation during an office visit.
2. Attend an Advocacy or Awareness Event in Your Community
Many universities, charities, hospitals, rehab centers, and advocacy organizations sponsor events to fundraise or spread awareness for mental health issues. Search for something that interests you and consider donating your time or money to the advocacy event. A number of local events can be found on our events page and we encourage you to give them a try on your own or bring along a friend or family member to enjoy it with you.
3. Get Certified in Mental Health Training
Mental Health First Aid training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.
One of the most helpful and satisfying ways to observe Mental Health Awareness Month is to volunteer to help individuals experiencing mental health problems. The Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition is a great resource to engage with organizations or health facilities that treat people with mental health conditions. Please contact us to learn more about the ways you can participate.