Mental Health Awareness month occurs each year in May in the USA. The goal of this special month is to raise awareness about the many medical and social issues involving mental health disorders. Most importantly, there is recognition of the need to battle the stigma that has until now pushed dealing with mental health issues into the ‘unwanted’ basket. The awareness can help society provide support, educate members of the broader public and push for more policies that support people with mental illness as well as their families.
Many of the major organizations in the USA support Mental Health Awareness month with programs, promotions and fund-raising. You can find plenty of material about the month on the National Alliance on Mental Health, American Hospital Association, youth.GOV, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, US Department of Health & Human Services and Anxiety and Depression Association of America websites.
Mental health awareness is an important issue in the school system. Teachers can be a first line of defense for their students as long as they are aware of the impact that a student’s mental health can have on learning and achievement. There is still a great deal that needs to be done to help students with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Mental Health Awareness month can play an important role in improving how the school system and teachers can tackle the problem together. Teachers should be provided with the knowledge that lets them recognize signs of mental health problems before they cross the line into a full-blown crisis. This should include recognizing the possibility of self-harm, development of drug dependencies and other negative behavior patterns.
What improvements in mental health care have come thanks to MHAM?
The efforts of institutions and individuals have raised awareness about the importance of mental health. This has promoted actional for support, acceptance and prevention.
For example, approximately 30 million Americans are newly eligible for Affordable Care and of them an estimated 11 million of them have mental health service needs.
States and territories are receiving grants to fund community-based mental health services both to adults with mental illnesses and for children with behavior disorders.
Schools, educational institutions, foster care systems, and other organizations get improved access to substance use disorder and mental health treatment services through more affordable insurance coverage.
How did Mental Health Awareness Month get started?
Mental Health Awareness month was started by Mental Health America (MHA), a community-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Currently, MHA has adopted the philosophy of ‘B4Stage4’ (Before Stage 4), which means that mental health conditions should be treated early – before they reach the most critical point. In diseases like cancer or cardiac failure, doctors don’t wait until the problem reaches a critical stage. They start by identifying symptoms, and developing a plan to halt or slow the progress of the disease, as well as prevention in the general population. These are the early stages (one, two and three) and for mental health problems, they should be addressed early, B4Stage4.