Help Spread Awareness During Mental Health Month in May

Hands holding green ribbon for mental health awareness monthSince 1949, May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month or simply Mental Health Month. Founded by an organization called Mental Health America, the observance is a time for mental health professionals, educators and people, in general, to spread the news that mental health is a key component of overall health. It is also an opportunity to highlight the fact that getting help from a mental health services provider is no different than seeking treatment from your family doctor.

Each year, the observance has a theme or area of focus. In 2019, Mental Health America says it is “expanding upon last year’s theme of #4Mind4Body and taking it to the next level, as we explore the topics of animal companionship (including pets and support animals), spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness.”

 

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

As part of Mental Health Month, the first week of May is a time for focusing on how mental illness affects children and their families. It is easy for adults to think of childhood as a time of carefree fun and overlook the fact that mental health issues can be present or develop at any age. In fact, the same mental health conditions that affect adults can impact children. This includes:

  • Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders, such as binge-eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which affects a person’s ability to communicate with and interact with others
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which causes hyperactivity, impulsive actions and difficulty concentrating
  • Schizophrenia, which causes people to experience psychosis or losing touch with reality

The symptoms of mental illness can be different in children than adults, so it is important for parents and other caregivers to be familiar with the signs of mental health conditions. It is also important for people to understand that while children do go through behavioral “phases” as they mature, concerning behaviors should not necessarily be attributed to these periods.

 

How to Spot Mental Health Issues in Children and Teens

The sooner a mental health condition is identified, the more successful mental health services can be in treating it. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Mood changes that last for at least two weeks and interfere with relationships at school or at home
  • Intense feelings of fear or of being overwhelmed by life, which may be accompanied by rapid breathing or heart rate
  • Trouble concentrating or sitting still
  • Physical symptoms like stomachaches or headaches, which are more commonly a sign of a mental health condition in children than adults
  • Significant changes in behavior such as lashing out verbally or physically, or expressing a desire to hurt others
  • Substance abuse, which may be a coping mechanism for a mental health disorder
  • Unexplained weight loss, frequent vomiting or loss of appetite
  • Self-harm such as cutting or burning of the skin 

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should talk with your child’s doctor. If appropriate, you should also consider talking with their teachers or school counselor to better understand the scope of the behavior. With that information, you and your doctor or mental health services provider can decide what action, if any, should be taken.

 

Mental Health Conditions are Treatable!

During Mental Health Month in May and all year long, it is important for people suffering from mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable and that there is no shame in seeking assistance. In fact, asking for help is a sign of strength and a positive step forward that should be applauded.

If you have questions about the mental health services we provide at Community Reach Center, contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County, including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

 

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is May 3-9

Each year, May is a time when there is a special focus on mental health and mental illness. The entire month is recognized as Mental Health Month, an observance created in 1949 by an organization originally called the National Association for Mental Health and now known as Mental Health America. Its purpose is to draw attention to mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, among others.

Additionally, May 3-9 is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Headed by the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, it shines a spotlight on children’s mental health issues.

Say It Out Loud: There Is No Shame in Mental Illness

One of the leading voices in this area is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It promotes a program called Say It Out Loud: Speaking with Teens about Mental Health. According to NAMI, one in five teens has a mental health condition but less than half of them are not getting the help they need.

Although more people than ever are aware that mental illness is a treatable disease faced by millions around the world, there is still a stigma associated with it. This is especially true among teens, given all the pressure they feel to “fit in” and be “normal.” To reduce, or ideally eliminate, that stigma, people need to continue to share accurate information about mental illness and engage others in meaningful conversations.

The Say it Out Loud program includes an online toolkit that adults can use to open conversations about mental health and mental illnesses like anxiety and depression that affect so many young people. The kit includes:

  • A short film featuring three teen's experiences
  • A discussion guide
  • A narrated presentation for the facilitator
  • Fact sheets and information about connecting with your local NAMI affiliate

NAMI encourages you to make as many copies of the toolkit as you need and distribute them throughout your community. 

Gain Proactive Awareness through CRC

Community Reach Center offers Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid courses. The health literacy courses are much like a traditional Red Cross First Aid course and have been gaining momentum over the past decade. The idea is to teach individuals how to take a proactive approach by looking for early signs that may indicate mental health problems and also how to successfully intervene with someone in crisis. 

Consider joining us for a day of learning. See information about our classes on our website at Youth Mental Health First Aid or Mental Health First Aid.

Other Ways to Promote Mental Health Awareness

There are so many ways you can contribute to the efforts to raise awareness about the mental health issues faced by young people — during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Mental Health Month and year ‘round! In addition to using and sharing the Say it Out Loud toolkit, you can:

  • Encourage your mayor, governor or other officials to make a proclamation recognizing one of the many mental health awareness events throughout the year
  • Hand out green mental health awareness ribbons
  • Host an event to provide information and resources at a local venue
  • Volunteer for your local mental health center or an NAMI affiliate

Spread the Word: There is Hope for People Striving for Better Mental Health!

We’re here for you if you have questions about Mental Health Month or Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, or if you need help with anxiety, depression, or any mental or emotional issues you are facing. Contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northern Denver metro area, including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.