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Mental Health Month – Why is it so important?

By Lily Kyser, Staff Writer

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“There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure….Together we can #CureStigma” – National Alliance on Mental Illness

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, America has been recognizing mental illness during the month of May since 1949. But how does dedicating a month to a certain cause benefit society? It gets people talking. There is a cloud of stigma and misunderstanding surrounding the definition of mental illness and how it affects those diagnosed and those around them.

Thanks to modern advancements in medicine, we understand that mental illness is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain – which can be managed through therapy and medication. We know now that mental illness is not the result of weakness or choice; anyone can be affected.

Kate Nelson (junior) is the VP of the Mental Health Organization at Flint Hill. The organization was started in 2017, and its goal is to enhance understanding of mental illness. She explains, it is “important for people to understand what mental illness is because it’s an important part of taking care of yourself.”

“People see the symptoms of a cold or the flu, and they immediately address those symptoms by taking medicine or seeking help. While mental health is different, it needs to be looked at with the same attitude. The more you personally know about mental health, the easier it will be to see when you need help, allowing you to take care of yourself before it gets out of control.” Nelson believes you can “reduce the stigma of mental illness by being open about [your] struggles.” She explains, “stigma around mental illness has allowed people to believe that staying silent will either make the problem go away or help the situation by keeping their friends and family out of the range of the problem.” In reality, “the biggest way to get rid of the stigma is to talk about it.”

According to Nelson, reduc

ing stigma will “make it easier for people struggling, who may not have been diagnosed, to be open about what they are dealing with.” How can you help? She answers, “it can be as simple as being open about your own struggles or donating to a charity that focuses on helping people with mental health.”

Flint Hill’s Mental Health Organization has taken steps to promote awareness through various posters, presentations, and surveys. By bringing more exposure to mental health-related topics, hopefully we can get rid of the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness- https://www.nami.org/

Hope for the Day- https://www.hftd.org/

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