May is Mental Health Month and it was established by Mental Health America. The organization has over 65 years of experience in educating and offering other resources to the public about the various mental disorders and their respective challenges. For this year’s campaign, the message being promoted is “B4Stage4,” which refers to treating mental conditions during the initial symptoms before they progress to the most severe stage, similar to how clinicians strive to treat medical illnesses. At stage four of a mental health condition, the prolonged accumulation of various symptoms can develop additional health concerns, warranting a greater need for intense and long-term care to prevent unemployment, incarceration or even death.
Mental Health America has become an active force in the awareness, diagnosis and treatment fields of mental illness. The organization has even crafted and categorized resource materials for individuals and other organizations to use. Mental Health America provides a media toolkit that includes condensed and focused messages, statistics and other sample works to include in press releases and other media-related publications. In addition, the kit also provides logos, banners, event calendars and other ads for organizations to distribute within their social networks.
For individuals, Mental Health America also created an engaging and informative video that clearly details the various aspects of mental illness. By sharing it with friends, family and other social media contacts, the distribution of the video can be a healthy first step for many. Furthermore, other media resources are made available through infographics, fact sheets and other social media images that illustrate the issues of mental health for mass audiences. Mental Health America also lists a number of ways people can make an immediate difference, whether it is within their local community or on a larger scale in the following ways:
- A person can contact a member of his or her city or state government to advocate awareness of Mental Health Month by phone or email. By providing the resources within the MHA’s media toolkit, a governing body can easily issue a proclamation or spread the word online. A person can also visit his or her respective state Capitol or city hall and engage in a well-needed conversation about mental health between community advocates and leaders, concerned citizens and the legislators.
- Another point of contact is community health associations, even those that focus on more medical topics. A strong component of this year’s promotion is to raise the importance of treating mental illness to that of medical problems. By partnering with one of these cardinal health organizations, the increased awareness can help establish change at multiple levels.
- One of the most effective actions is organizing a community event, such as a charitable run/walk or health screening for mental health. Organizers can team up with a school or other members in the area to set up and promote the event through different channels. For screening events, having computers available or simply informing others about mhascreening.org is an important element to include. Planned events such as these not only increase awareness, but also strengthen communities under a common goal.
- An influential alternative is to plan and spread awareness of an online event in honor of mental health awareness. One of the most successful cases of this is demonstrated by Earth Hour, where communities strive to turn off unnecessary sources of energy worldwide. For mental health awareness, a movement could be made to show how common mental health issues affect countless individuals and their families.
- At the very least, people can utilize their social networks to spread the word even a little. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or other social media sites using advocated hashtags by MHA including #mhmonth2015 or #B4Stage4.
In addition to these various suggestions, Mental Health America has also planned events of its own including National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which takes place on May 7th. The entire month is also Older American’s Month. No matter what a person’s age is, mental illness is an issue that can severely affect anyone, but the most important fact is that it can be prevented or treated before it intensifies.
Sovereign Health of California supports mental health awareness. When a mental disorder hits home, the first step that needs to be taken is getting support and treatment for the individual afflicted. If you or someone you know needs comprehensive treatment for a mental illness, please contact our team of consultants online or call (866) 819-0427 for more information.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer