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Mental Health Awareness Month: Why It Matters and How You Can Get Involved

Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.D

Updated on May 4th, 2023

Save up to 88% on your medications

Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, PharmD

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it's a time to focus on the importance of mental health and how it affects our overall wellbeing. Mental Health America initiated this event to increase awareness, reduce stigma, and recognize those who have recovered from mental illness. In this article, we'll explore the various aspects of mental health awareness month, including what it is, why it's important, and how you can participate. We'll also delve into the common types of mental illness, early warning signs, risk factors, and available treatment options.

Facts About Mental Illness in the United States

Mental health conditions are more prevalent than you might think. In the United States alone, approximately 53 million people suffer from a mental health condition. That's a staggering number! And it's not just adults who are affected. About 17% of children aged 6 to 17 years also have mental health issues. Anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental illness, with about 48 million Americans affected. Major depression is another prevalent condition, affecting around 21 million individuals. Unfortunately, more than half of people with mental illness don't receive treatment, and approximately 11% of those with mental illness don't have health insurance. Other conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) also affect millions of people in the United States. These numbers highlight the urgent need for greater awareness and access to mental health care in our society.

What are the risk factors for mental health disorders?

Risk factors for mental health disorders include genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Loss of loved ones, job loss, financial incapability, inability to access healthcare, excessive worry, violence, discrimination, racism, societal stigma, and lack of social and community support are all potential influences.

What are the warning signs of mental illness?

Recognizing the signs of mental illness can be crucial in getting the necessary help and support. Although the symptoms vary depending on the specific condition, some early warning signs are common. These include feeling worried or afraid without a specific reason, experiencing frequent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, difficulty focusing, mood swings, avoiding social events, losing interest in activities that were once enjoyed, using drugs or alcohol to cope, and having suicidal thoughts. Children may also show signs of mental illness, such as changes in school performance, hyperactive behavior, regular nightmares, frequent aggression or disobedience, and regular temper tantrums. It's important to know these signs so that you can seek help and support for yourself or your loved ones. Early intervention can improve outcomes and prevent the condition from worsening.

What are the treatment options for mental illness?

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental illness, it's important to know that there are various treatment options available. These options include medication, peer support groups, group therapy, individual counseling, mental health education, and inpatient treatment at a hospital, treatment facility, or residential program. It's crucial to consult with your regular healthcare provider if you notice any signs of mental illness, as they can refer you to a mental health professional who can help you find the right treatment plan. Remember that seeking treatment for mental illness is a sign of strength and self-care, and can lead to significant improvements in your overall wellbeing.

How expensive are the medications for mental health illness?

The cost of mental illness medications can vary widely, and some can be quite expensive depending on the brand, quantity, and where you purchase them. For example, a 90-pill supply of 20mg tablets of escitalopram (Lexapro) can cost up to $1,200, while lurasidone (Latuda) can range from $1,200 to $1,600 for just 30 tablets. Fortunately, you don't have to break the bank to get the medication you need. By opting for generic forms of your medications, the price will be significantly lower. In addition, using an RxLess prescription discount coupon can save you up to 88% off the retail price of your prescription medications, making treatment more affordable and accessible.

How can I participate in Mental Health Awareness Month?

Get involved in Mental Health Awareness Month and make a difference in the following ways:

  • Participate in fundraising efforts to support mental health initiatives.
  • Join community outreach programs to provide care and raise awareness.
  • Start conversations with people in your community who may be struggling with mental illness.
  • Educate yourself on the challenges faced by those living with mental health issues.
  • Share information on social media to help spread awareness and reduce stigma around mental illness using hashtags #mentalhealthawarenessmonth and #breakthestigma.

Your contribution, no matter how small, can make a big impact in helping to reduce the stigma around mental health and promoting a better understanding of these conditions.

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