New Year’s resolutions often focus on losing weight, saving money or being more organized. It is also a perfect time to focus on your mental health and educate yourself about mental illness.

One resolution is to take our Pledge to End Stigma. Separating the truth from the stigma can help increase awareness, understanding and acceptance for those living with mental health challenges. Research shows that stigma surrounding mental illness prevents people from seeking help and discourages other from lending support.

According to Kenneth Houseknecht, Executive Director, Mental Health Advocates of WNY, we continue to make great progress with mental health.

“In 2018, New York became the first state to require that every child in every grade in every school receive mental health education. Bit by bit, we are chipping away at the stigma surrounding mental health, as more people—from sports stars and celebrities to everyday folks— are becoming more comfortable sharing their struggles and successes,”  Houseknecht said. “But more, much more, needs to be done. We need to advocate for more resources. We need more mental health professionals. And we need to put the “health” back into mental health: in the classroom, workplace, communities of worship, and throughout our society.”

If you are dealing with a mental health challenge, you are not alone. One in five Americans lives with a diagnosable mental health condition.

According to NAMI, your first stop in getting help is your primary care doctor to rule out other physical health conditions. Be honest about what you’re feeling and be clear about what you want; ask for help finding a therapist or mental health specialist that works for you. A new year means a new beginning, said Karl Shallowhorn, Education Program Coordinator for the Community Health Center of Buffalo and Coalition member. “Take this opportunity to commit to taking care of your mental health and become the best you can be!”

If you or someone you love is dealing with a mental health issue, help is available. There are a variety of organizations and programs across Western New York standing by to assist children, adolescents, adults and families with prevention, treatment and recovery. Reaching out to a trusted resource is the first step to getting the support you need.

Five New Year’s resolutions that will benefit your mental health.

  • Stand up to Stigma.
  • Take care of your physical health.
  • Share your story.
  • Make a commitment to stay informed.
  • Do something that you love every day.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Approximately
1 in 5 youth aged
13–18 (21.4%)

experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.

%

For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.