Helping To Break the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Over the past eighteen months, through the work of the Mental Health Initiative, our community has been exposed to a diversity of facts, programs and marketing messages regarding the impact Mental Health has on our day-today lives. In recognition of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, it would seem wise to highlight some of the more significant issues affecting our emotional well-being.

  • 1 in 5 adults in the United States live with a mental health condition. * 60 million people in the United States face the day-to-day reality of living with a mental illness.
  • Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24, but early intervention programs can help. Yet only 50.6% of children with a mental health condition aged 8-15 receive mental health services.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but suicide is preventable.
  • In North Carolina, suicide rates for youth 10-17 have doubled in the last 10 years and is now the 2nd leading cause of death for that age group, second only to auto accidents.
  • The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90% of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with the right treatments and supports.
  • 56% of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment.

With the prevalence of mental health issues growing so significantly, the reality is that almost everyone in today’s society is impacted by knowing someone; a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor who is struggling with a mental health issue. Why then are we still challenged with the “stigma” of seeking mental health counseling? For so many, there is still the long-term belief that seeking treatment for a mental health issue is a weakness.

If as individuals we acknowledge that mental health is affecting our lives; and if as a friend or loved one we recognize that accessing treatment can help those that we care about; then as a community it is critical that we collectively work to change the culture of how we perceive mental health. Just as we don’t think twice about seeking treatment for diabetes or taking medication for high blood pressure or getting physical therapy for a torn knee, so should we just as easily seek treatment for depression, anxiety, or any other issue that is impairing our emotional health and well-being.

As we look to raise awareness regarding Mental Health let us all promote good emotional health and recognize that accessing treatment is a strength, not a weakness. Personally, take the step to reach out to a family member, friend or co-worker that is struggling. Talk to them, encourage them to seek the treatment they need and support them in taking a positive step towards healing an emotional wound. If you are interested in helping to break the stigma around Mental Health or you want to learn more about accessing treatment, contact Jewish Family Services at 704-364-6594.