Community | National Alliance on Mental Illness
By: Ashley Solis
Many of us who take our physical health and wellness into consideration tend to think about taking care of our bodies through exercise, eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep. While these are all healthful practices, did you know that our mental health is equally important? May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and according to Mental Health America, each year, one in five adults will be diagnosed with a mental health condition. Fifty percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental illness within their lifetime, and half of those individuals will develop conditions by 14 years of age. Mental illness does not discriminate; it affects folks of any race, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, sexual orientation or disability.
Mental illness is a medical condition that interrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, relationships with others, and their day to day functioning. Many times, when someone is diagnosed with cancer or heart disease, treatment is usually started right away. With mental illness, many times the diagnosis goes ignored or misunderstood. Mental Health Awareness Month is focused on reducing the stigma attached to mental health diagnoses. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness month is “B4Stage4: Changing the Way We Think About Mental Health.” Please visit Mental Health America’s site to get more information about the four stages, early identification and intervention.
Some of the most serious and common forms of mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder and borderline personality disorder. There are risk factors, warning signs and symptoms that should not be ignored, but many people are unaware of what these are. Fortunately, the treatment and recovery of mental illness is possible if people get the support and treatment they need. Although mental health care can be expensive, there are local non-profits that offer services free of charge. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nationwide non-profit that provides resources to those in need of mental health support. Since NAMI is based throughout the United States, our local chapters, NAMI Pomona Valley and NAMI San Bernardino County are two ways our residents can get connected.
On both NAMI’s national and local website, you can find a wealth of information. Part of successful treatment is catching mental illness early on. NAMI states, “There’s no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of physical illness.” Although, some of the warning signs can include excessive worry or fear, feeling excessively sad or low, confused thinking, problems concentrating, abuse of substances and numerous other signs. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or someone you know, reach out for support. This can be done on NAMI's local chapter websites through obtaining education, attending local support groups, or contacting their information and referral helplines, or by reviewing their database of local resources. All NAMI Pomona Valley and San Bernardino programs and services are free of charge.
According to NAMI:
“If you or someone you know is struggling, you are not alone. There are many supports, services and treatment options that may help. A change in behavior or mood may be the early warning signs of a mental health condition and should never be ignored. There are many different types of mental illness, and it isn’t easy to simplify the range of challenges people face.”
If you or someone you know needs support, click here.