May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is the month to raise awareness of it, reduce the stigma it has, and show people that they are not alone and that it’s okay not to be okay. According to NAMI(National Alliance on Mental Illness), millions of people face the reality of living with a mental illness each year. Millions of people, let that sink in for a minute.

Reducing The Stigma

There is a negative stigma attached to mental illnesses. However, a large portion of the negative stigma comes from a lack of understanding or fear. There are also different types of stigmas, such as public stigmas, which are the attitudes that other have towards mental illnesses. Another kind of stigma is self-stigma, or internal stigma, which is the shame that people with mental illnesses feel about themselves. There is nothing wrong with being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. However, it does NOT define you or your life; it only defines itself as part of who you are, as an outstanding human being.

Some ways to reduce or deal with the stigma itself are:

  • Receiving treatment or talking to a mental health professional to learn and educate yourself on mental health and its treatments. Treatments, such as therapy, can provide relief by identifying what's wrong and reducing symptoms that interfere with your work and personal life.

  • Going to a support group or looking at support groups online that deal with mental health. Many groups, such as NAMI, have local groups to educate people with mental illnesses, their families, and the general public.

  • Don’t let the stigma create self-doubt and shame. The stigma doesn’t just come from others; it comes from us as well. We see it as a sign of weakness and that we should handle it without help, but the opposite is true. Seeking counseling and educating yourself about your condition, and connecting with others with mental illness can help you gain self-esteem and overcome destructive self-judgment.

  • No self-isolating. If you have a mental illness, you may hide it from friends and family or others, but those people are the same ones that can support you. Reach out to people you trust for the compassion, support, and understanding you need.

  • Don’t equate yourself with your mental illness. You are not your mental illness. Instead of saying, "I'm bipolar," say, "I have bipolar disorder." Instead of calling yourself "a schizophrenic," say "I have schizophrenia."

Why is it important to talk about mental health?

One of the reasons it’s so important to talk about is that it can affect your physical health since they go hand in hand. For example, there have been multiple studies where poor mental health has had a negative impact on physical health and vice versa. According to NIMN(National Institute of Mental Health), the average life expectancy is 78.6 years. However, the average life span for people with serious mental illness ranges from 49 – 60 years. This range is 25-30 years less than the general public. [1] People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population. [2]

You might be wondering, “How does talking even help?”. First, it helps by ending the stigma behind it. The stigma can stop us from reaching out for help when we need it. Second, it lets us know that we are not alone. Nearly 1 in 5 adults live with a mental illness (51.5 million in 2019).[3]

To Encourage care and support is yet another reason to talk about it. Speaking, in general, can encourage us to seek treatment, especially when we realize that we are not alone. Talking about it can also reduce the risk of suicide. Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2017, more than 47,000 people in the U.S. completed suicide, including far too many young people.[4] Among people aged 10-34, suicide was the second leading cause of death in 2017.

How can gaming communities help?

Gaming communities can help by giving people a safe place to relieve their stresses and a place to feel that they belong. In addition, a gaming community, such as PMS Clan, can give someone a support system while still having that semi-anonymous presence of being online while talking on the chance you feel too afraid to speak to someone in person. PMS Clan also isn’t just a place for friends to gather; it’s a place where you join to be part of a family, a forever growing family with an enormous support system. The gaming aspect itself can help you suppress negative emotions, and when done with a friend from the community, like PMS Clan, you are doing it with a friend and a family member. Apart from gaming and finding someone to talk to, it is also a great way to make friends that can positively impact your life. Spending time with people is known to increase joy and happiness and relieve feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Links to Mental Health Websites & Phone Numbers

1-866-615-6464 - NIMH(National Institute of Mental Health) phone number

800-950-NAMI - NAMI Helpline, or text “NAMI” in a crisis to 741741 - 741741 for US & CA, 85258 for the UK, and 50808 for Ireland. Your opening message can say anything. Keywords like “HOME,” “START,” and “HELLO” just help us identify how people hear about us.

You can also Facebook Message the Crisis Text Line here.

Mental Health Charities

National Institute of Mental Health

The projects supported through the Gift Fund may vary from year to year, depending on the Institute’s needs. The Gift Fund may be used to:

  • Support and train junior scientists in mental health research.

  • Purchase special equipment and supplies for clinical laboratories.

  • Support workshops and conferences on subjects of priority importance to mental health/disorder research.

  • Print and distribute informative materials to educate the public about mental health and mental illnesses.

Menninger Clinic

At Menninger, we believe everyone can achieve a healthier tomorrow with the proper care and support. Our passionate community of donors helps us to realize this vision by funding efforts that advance the future of mental health care.

Your donation to The Menninger Clinic Foundation has the power to change lives by enabling innovative clinical initiatives, one-of-a-kind research, unique educational experiences, and transformative outreach programs.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization. “We are dedicated to improving the lives of millions of Americans affected by mental illness. We strive to create a better tomorrow—a tomorrow where all people affected by mental illness can experience hope, recovery, and wellness in a world free of stigma.”

When you make a financial contribution to NAMI, you help us make that tomorrow a reality. You help ensure that no individual or family is alone on their mental health journey. You help provide a national network of support and resources online and in communities across the country.

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