May 12th is National Mental Health Awareness Day, and a day to bring attention to all the challenges those with mental illness face. National Mental Health Day is a time to recognize the stigma placed upon and the challenges faced by those who have a mental illness. Mental Health advocates use this day to recognize the importance of mental health services and mental health practitioners in patients’ lives. It can be easy to disregard the importance of mental health because it is not as readily apparent as physical health. However, mental health can affect physical health by interfering with our ability to carry out daily tasks and living fulfilled and happy lives.
The societal stigma around mental health is the main reason why so many people are not willing to talk about their own mental health disorders for fear of being shunned or labeled as damaged. According to one survey, 1 in 12 people reported not wanting to live next to someone with mental illness, and 1 in 10 people reported not wanting to maintain a relationship with someone diagnosed with a mental illness. By showing the world that a person with a mental illness can live a normal life just as everyone else, we can help get rid of this stigma once and for all.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the largest mental health organization working on improving the lives of millions of Americans affected by mental illness. Their 2021 campaign is ‘You Are Not Alone.’ The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness that millions of people across the country are experiencing mental health problems, and we can be part of a community that can help them overcome their health issues without judgement. NAMI wants to bring to light that mental health disorders are more common than most people think. In fact, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness, and 17% of young adults age 6 to 17 experience a mental health disorder. The NAMI organization’s website has published a number of stories from people’s firsthand experiences dealing with their mental health issues and how they overcame these issues. Their goal is to help open up dialogue regarding mental health and help others see they are not alone in their experience.
UHRU understands how important mental health services are to the community and is working on a project in rural South Gujarat, India in partnership with the Gram Seva Trust. The project’s goal is to decrease the number of suicides in the region by increasing awareness of mental health problems and improving screening, treatment, and rehabilitation services. India accounts for 36.6% of suicides globally, which is astoundingly high, therefore UHRU wants to increase access to mental health services in this rural region.
Mental health is as important as physical health and needs as much attention as any other disease or ailment. If you would like to read stories about individuals overcoming the barriers placed on them by their mental illness, visit the NAMI website at https://www.nami.org/personal-stories. If you or a loved one is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. UHRU is dedicated to changing the stigma around mental health both in the U.S. and abroad in order to improve the well-being of our global community.