Thanks to COVID-19, everyone's mental health seems to be taking a huge hit. Some factors may include not being able to see family and friends, losing jobs, not being able to do school in person, not getting a true college experience, struggling to find work, or just plain worried about getting the virus.
There is more to suicide prevention than just calling the hotline (800-273-8255). Yes, it does help some people but not for everyone. Not everyone has resources, a good support system, affordable healthcare, and so much more. Unfortunately, the United States still has a long way to go in the course of bettering the mental health of others.
September may be Suicide Awareness Month, and World Suicide Prevention Day might be September 10, but you don't have to have to wait until then to know about what is going on with mental health in the United States.
Here are three alarming realities of mental health in the United States.
1. Suicide is the second leading cause of death of those between the ages of 10-24 and fourth for the ages of 35-54
That statistic alone should be getting you to pay attention. Anyone can struggle with suicidal ideation. It could be triggered by past trauma, a mental illness, feeling unsupported, or not feeling listened to.
It can also be hard to discuss because some people see suicide attempts as attention-seeking, not actually caring until an individual is successful. A good example of this is ̈́"13 Reasons Why," when people only seemed to care about Hannah after died, not when she was alive.
2. In the United States, only 41 percent of people with a mental disorder have received professional health care within the last year.
Mental illness and poverty are not a good combination. There are many people who can't afford a therapist, which is why many adults go undiagnosed. It also doesn´t help when you don't have support from the people who are supposed to be supporting you.
There are many factors that contribute to people not getting any help. Poverty is one of them — it's hard when someone has to choose between not going hungry and getting help for themselves. That is something that no one should have to choose.
3. There is still a huge stigma surrounding mental health
Mental health is often not taken as seriously as physical health. There can be many people worrying about losing their jobs — if they state that they have a mental illness, they might not qualify for certain things, and they may also be worried about their peers judging them
The U.S needs to do better. There need to be more counselors in schools. Medication shouldn't cost a fortune to buy, therapy shouldn't require specific insurance. No one should have to choose between their own health and paying the rent.
Don't wait until Suicide Awareness Month to educate yourselves about what is going on — don't wait until September to be there for your friends who need it the most.
Reach out to them, invite them out for a (socially distant) coffee or a walk just to talk, check up on them and see how they are doing, just be a friend to them
Just know that you are not alone out there — you have so many people who care about you and you have so much to live for. As humans, we should do better and be the change we need in this world right now.