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