Mental Health Awareness

May was made Mental Health Month in 1949. That means this month we nationally recognize  the importance of mental health in our daily lives and general health. The goal of this month is to raise awareness.

Mental Health America has been leading this campaign for the last 70 years.  For 2019 they  are continuing the theme from last year: #4Mind4Body . Recognizing that mental health is as important as physical well-being removes the stigma on mental illness.

Adults can have a difficult time noticing the signs of poor mental health or mental illness. It can be that much harder for kids to understand what they may be going through if they are experiencing similar symptoms. In teen years, when anxious and depressive feelings can be normal in the face of peer pressure and puberty there is a percentage of youth have clinically poor mental health.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 1 in 5 teens has a serious mental disorder. The most common disorders of this age range are anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity and eating disorders. During key development years, kids and teens need to know that nothing is wrong with them for having mental health issues. Creating a safe environment makes it easier for individuals to talk about their problems and seek help. 

Diagnosing and treating disorders of mental health lowers substance abuse and suicide. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals includes #3 Good Health and Well-Being. Reducing the worldwide suicide rate is a specific target.

To make the world a better place, we have to make safe environments. We aim to do our part by following the Positive Youth Development Model. There are no set rules for PYD,  but The Office of Adolescent Health advises these general practices:

  1. Physical and psychological safety
  2. Appropriate structure
  3. Supportive relationships
  4. Opportunities to belong
  5. Positive social norms
  6. Support for efficacy and mentoring (opportunities to make a difference)
  7. Opportunities for skill-building
  8. Integration of family, school, and community efforts

So this month let’s promote mental health. A child growing up knowing they can talk about issues and get help without feeling shame will be free to maximize their potential!