As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it's time we sat down and talked about the illnesses plaguing our communities. An estimated 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have to live with mental illnesses each year. That is almost 50 million people! And these numbers continue to climb as we put immense pressure on students and millennials to more successful. If we work to end this stigma around mental health, we can start giving people the resources they need to be the best versions of themselves.
The first thing we need to do as a society is to understand that people suffer from mental health issues. This statement is not up for debate, in fact, it is proven by science. Undermining the daily struggles people with mental illnesses have, will not aide in their betterment. Seventy percent of adults experience at least one traumatic event in their life. We cannot expect our peers to simply bounce back from life-changing events. We aren't trampolines, coming back from each hard hit we take until we collapse. Rather, we are like leather, beaten and shaped yet still surviving.
To make it easier for people to talk about their mental health issues, let's start creating safe spaces for them. Quit using words and phrases that are damaging such as "triggered," "mental," "loony bin," and "loose screw." These words were created to alienate people who work infinitesimally harder than able-bodied people and we shouldn't stand for it anymore.
Let's show our support for people living with mental illnesses by saying we see and hear them. Offer resources and be willing to listen when they want to talk. No one can survive on their own, so let's make it easier for the fifty million Americans that have to live with a mental illness.
Lastly, to the people who have issues with their mental health: you are seen, you are heard, and you are loved. I am amazed by strength and capability. Never be ashamed of who you are.