Welcome to our first mental health issue. Did you know that May is mental health awareness month? Mental illness is a subject that is close to my heart since I’ve been coping with bipolar disorder since I was 20. No, I’m not going to tell you how long that’s been, but the good news is that it’s been extremely well controlled for many years with therapy and medication. With this issue I hope to help bring awareness to mental health, and the resources in our community that can help those struggling with mental illness.
Did you know that twenty percent of Americans suffer from mental illness in a given year, making it a leading cause of disability in this country? (nami.org). A great deal of this goes untreated or undertreated. But it doesn’t have to. Many people are reluctant to admit they are having trouble, or to go get help for it, or to take medications, thinking of any mental health issue as a sign of weakness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. No one is alone in mental illness.
If you’re struggling, the first place to go is your family doctor, who is ready, willing, and very able to help most people with mental health issues without intervention from a psychiatrist. They can also help get further treatment if necessary. Of course, if you feel suicidal, or are dealing with someone who is suicidal, the first place to go is the Emergency Room.
Experts agree that it is hugely important to work towards erasing the stereotypes of mental illness. Bringing it up to the air and light will go a long way towards this goal. And the more we talk about it, within our own families, in our schools, and in our communities, and educate people, the more understanding people will be and those suffering might be more likely to seek help.
And, of course, May is also when we celebrate mothers. What do moms really want on that special day? Flowers? A nice dinner? We interviewed four mothers from the area, and the answers may surprise you. I already know that I will get what I want for Mother’s Day: my daughter will be home from college for the summer.