Every day, people all across the nation suffer from mental health issues, from everyday stress to an ongoing struggle with depression to a lifelong battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Left untreated, many mental health disorders can lead to minor and life-threatening physical problems, drug and alcohol abuse, self-inflicted harm, and suicide.
In an attempt to temporarily relieve their pain, many people suffering from mental health disorders, particularly anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, self-medicate with alcohol and drugs only to worsen their mental health illness, acquire an addiction, and damage their physical health. In fact, mental health illnesses and alcohol abuse are often co-occurring.
People often turn to alcohol rather than seek help for their mental health issues out of the shame, embarrassment, or denial that stems from the stigma and myths surrounding mental health illnesses. However, Mental Health Awareness Month encourages those struggling with mental health issues to ignore the the stigma society places on mental health disorders and seek the help they need and deserve.
May was designated as Mental Health Awareness Month by Mental Health America (MHA) in 1949 to erase the stigma surrounding mental health and raise awareness about the importance of mental health wellness and the dangers of leaving mental health disorders untreated.
This year’s theme, “Pathways to Wellness,” promotes general mental health wellness and its role in overall health and wellness. For key messages of this year’s theme, fact sheets, and media materials for raising awareness in your community, visit MHA’s website.
If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other mental health illness, with or without related alcohol abuse problems, choose this month to seek the help you need to recover and live a full and productive life. For resources, support, and information for mental health illness and alcohol abuse, visit Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website at www.samhsa.gov.