Mental Illness Awareness Week

Hey, fellow mom! If you don’t take care of you, no one else will. I’m talking not just about your physical health, but I’m also talking about your mental health.

How do you take care of your mental health? That’s between you and your health care provider, of course. Taking care of mental health looks different for different people

  • medications and/or psychotherapy are prescribed for some
  • regular exercise is what some people need
  • meditation, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness training work for others
  • a combination of all of the above is often prescribed, too

Mental health is often “invisible” to all except the person experiencing the issues. Only you (and sometimes your partner, spouse, or a close friend) may know how you are faring in terms of your mental health. Your family needs you. You need your family. Part of taking care of yourself and your family is taking care of your mental health. Mental Health issues for many people are temporary. Only you and your doctor, therapist, psychologist, and/or psychiatrist can determine the best course of treatment to help you be a healthy member of your family.

However, there’s a significant portion of people who have mental illness–a life-long struggle with one or more mental health diagnoses. One in five adults living in the US face the day-to-day reality of living with a mental health condition. That’s approximately 60 million people living with mental illness. Let that number sink in–60 million people who live with an illness that is rarely visible to you and the rest of society. Are you aware of the mental illness that runs in your family? I know that mental illness in a variety of forms runs very, very strongly in my family. I’m hyper-aware of its impact on me and my family.2016miaw-fb-shareimage

October 2-8 is Mental Illness Awareness Week sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) #MentallIllnessAwareness #MIAW #StigmaFree. NAMI strives to build better lives for those affected by mental illness. Mental illness comes with tremendous stigma attached. Many mental illnesses can make daily living  and daily human interactions difficult for the person who has the mental illness and also for family members trying to support these individuals.

How can you help to make living with a mental illness stigma free

  • Think about the language you use to talk about and to people with mental illness. These individuals and the rest of society don’t benefit from perpetuation of labels and stereotypes.
  • Offer support to family or friends you know who face the challenge of mental illness either directly or due to supporting a family member with mental illness. What this support looks like may change over time. The words “how can I help?” are a great place to start.
  • Educate yourself about mental illness so you have a better grasp of reality for those living with mental illness.
  • Choose to see the person and not the illness. (That doesn’t mean ignoring the fact that there is illness involved. That means treating the person with respect and empathy and not as less than a person due to his/her mental illness.)
  • Let a person or family in crisis due to mental illness know that they are not alone and offer to help them seek help. NAMI offers resources for individuals living with mental illness AND their caregivers/family.
  • Be honest with your family members if you live with mental illness and need help and/or alert family members that if your mental illness seems to be getting worse/manifesting itself in new ways, they need to help you get help. (Please note: Not all individuals living will mental illness will be able ask for help or think ahead enough to ask for help.)

Concrete ways to help a person in crisis seek help:

  • If it’s an emergency in which you or someone you know is suicidal, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, call 911, or go to a hospital emergency room.
  • Help a person seek treatment from a health care provider or mental health counselor by contacting their health care service provider.
  • If you are an individual or family member of a person in mental health crisis and you don’t know where to start, please call the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) for assistance.

Facts and statistics in this post courtesy of http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-by-the-Numbers

 

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