What you need to know:
In 2016, President Obama declared May as National Mental Health Awareness month to engage public support and encourage those with mental illness to seek treatment. Mental illness is prevalent, affecting one out of every five Americans, yet many are ashamed and embarrassed to ask for help because of the stigma that often accompanies diagnosis. The average length of time between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is nine years. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has launched the StigmaFree campaign to try and remove social and organizational barriers to pave the way toward acceptance and treatment, so the path to recovery is shortened.
One suggested method of removing barriers to diagnosis and treatment is to integrate mental health services in the primary care setting. When patients can discuss mental health concerns in the same way they would voice physical health complaints, it helps normalize the illness. Programs made up of interdisciplinary teams that include mental health and primary care experts have demonstrated success in removing treatment barriers and decreasing stigma, including the self-stigma that mental health patients often experience.
Mental health is an important part of a person’s overall well-being and May is a positive reminder to remove the stigma associated with mental illness.
Read more about mental health awareness and stigma here: