May is finally underway which means the horizon of summer nears closer and closer, thankfully. At Synergy Group Services, we hope that you were able to participate in National Addiction Treatment Week, even if it was a short little post on your social media account; sharing a fact or words of encouragement can generate enormous ripples. Those who have come through the other side of active addiction are living embodiments of the programs’ power. Your compassion towards those still suffering can be the spark that lights the torch of another’s recovery.
Treatment Week is over, but that doesn’t mean we stop working to end the stigma of mental illness that prevents millions around the globe from seeking treatment. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), stigma prevents the 1 in 5 Americans with mental health conditions from seeking help. When you consider that 60 million people in the United States are living with any form of mental illness, stigma is standing in the way of millions of people’s recovery. But, it doesn’t need to be; together, those in recovery and not can change the narrative about mental health conditions and guide countless individuals toward recovery.
Perhaps you are already aware that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? If not, this is a perfect opportunity to help organizations like NAMI and Mental Health America raise awareness of mental health and support changing society’s perception of debilitating brain diseases. Throughout the course of the month events are going on across the country; hopefully, you will find time to take part. If not, you can utilize social media; when efficiently wielded, the internet is a powerful weapon for fighting stigma.
Mental Health and Curing Stigma
NAMI has set its sights on helping the general public better understand stigma and the impact it can have on those living with mental illness. Given how pervasive stigma is, it is not uncommon for individuals to know they are contributing to the problem. With that in mind, NAMI offers a short quiz that everyone can take to determine if stigma has infected them, please take a moment to take the test and be part of the cure. As an aside, some people in recovery may have views about mental illness that are not in line with the facts; stigma can be an internal feeling confusing “feeling bad” with “being bad.” The point is, addressing the virus of stigma is vital for all of us.
Effective ways to work the problem and be the solution:
- Examine your own behavior before judging others.
- Stigma may not directly affect you, but it prevents others from seeking help.
- Be an ally to people with mental health conditions.
- There’s no cure for mental health conditions, but we can cure stigma.
- Take the test, find out if you need to make some adjustments.
Please take a moment to watch a short video:
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with alcohol, substance use disorder, and co-occurring mental illness, Synergy Group Services can assist you in your recovery. Please contact Synergy today to learn more about our programs.
A couple weeks ago we wrote to inform you that September is National Recovery Month. We encouraged you to share your story, with the hope of encouraging others who are still living in addiction to seek help. For those of you who choose to do so, we at Synergy Group Services commend you for your courage. We know how hard it is to talk about one’s past, and what it took to find recovery, but please know that the more we open up about addiction and the fact that it does not discriminate—the more we chip away at the stigma of mental health disorders.
There is a good chance that your story resonated with someone who is in dire straits, desperately needing addiction treatment services. People often continue active drug and alcohol use for years after they determine that their substance abuse has become problematic. It is a behavior that is typical of anyone with an untreated mental illness. And sadly, millions of people fail to ever get the help they need and find the path of recovery. There are a number of reasons why a person will shy away from seeking assistance, but one of the major reasons is the stigma associated with being identified as an alcoholic or drug addict.
For those who have been in recovery for a number of years, it is likely that some will say that they are proud to be in recovery. And that without the dark times of their addiction, they may not have ever found the beautiful gifts that they have today. To be certain, those living with mental illness have nothing more to be ashamed about than any other person living with a form of chronic illness that requires continued maintenance.
It is unfortunate that many people feel shamed into keeping mute about their mental health problems. Those who are unable to get the help they need will sometimes make choices that cannot be undone, such as choosing suicide. What’s even sadder is the fact that mental health treatments today are light years ahead of what they use to be. It is possible to manage the symptoms of one’s mental illness and live a relatively normal—productive life.
The month of September is also Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) highlights the fact that, “suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people and is often the result of mental health conditions that affect people when they are most vulnerable.”
Throughout the course of the month, NAMI would like everyone to help “promote awareness of suicide prevention resources and promote discussion of suicide prevention awareness. On social media you can share the image below, using #suicideprevention or #StigmaFree.
Do you know someone living with a mental illness? Perhaps you do, and is it someone close to you, i.e., family member or friend? The chances are that you probably do and, even if you do not, you can help them this May by taking part in Mental Health Month. Unfortunately, even in the enlightened times we find ourselves living, there are still stigmas surrounding mental health disorders—illnesses which include:
- Anxiety Disorder (i.e. PTSD, OCD and Phobias)
- Bipolar Disorder
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is urging people to harness the power and reach out on their social media platforms for educating others, raise awareness and end the stigma of mental illness with hope. They ask that you take the pledge to be #StigmaFree this #MentalHealthMonth. While approximately 1 in 5 American adults experience some form of mental illness in a given year, less than 41 percent of them receive any form of mental health service, according to NAMI.
Mental illness that is left unchecked by therapy and medication can quickly spiral out of control—often times ending in tragedy. We can all have a hand in encouraging the afflicted to seek help for their illness without fear of being shamed. Recovering from mental health disorders is possible—people can lead normal and productive lives free from disgrace. But, in order for that to come to fruition, it involves a societal effort.
So, What Can You Do to help?
- Take the Pledge to Be #StigmaFree
- Record your Video
- Upload it to your YouTube channel and other social media accounts.
- Include #StigmaFree in the Title
Perhaps you have a story of your own that you would like to share with others who are still severely impacted by a mental illness. What you went through may empower others to seek the help they so desperately need. Let them know that they are not alone, share your voice.
“We know that mental illness is not something that happens to other people. It touches us all. Why then is mental illness met with so much misunderstanding and fear?” – Tipper Gore