Mental health doesn't affect me.
Mental health problems are actually very common. Here are the statistics:
One in five American adults experiences a mental health issue.
One in 10 young people experiences a period of major depression.
One in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide.
The data is eye-opening; the stark reality is that currently there are tens of millions of Americans facing legitimate mental health concerns. Even if that number doesn’t include you directly, the mental health crisis facing our nation and our world is having its impact on someone you know. Whether it’s a teacher, boss, family member, co-worker - the possibilities go on and on - there is not a person in the world who is immune to the reality that mental health issues are our issue as a total community.
The myth that mental health doesn’t affect everyone reinforces a major component of negative stigma - the “other”-ness, the distance between yourself and the issue. The reason why it’s so essential to reduce stigmas is two-fold. One, it’s critical that we eliminate character judgments on others. Mental illness is not a character flaw; it’s a legitimate health care concern just like any other. Two, because it impacts everyone, whether directly or indirectly, it’s a community-wide reality that truly relies on the full force of community members to address.
Compassion, support, and willingness to earnestly work together to improve people’s lives speaks to who we are and the need to care about people other than just ourselves. Even if mental health concerns do not affect you directly, it is a global concern with real costs to the economy, family structure, education, and more.
Here’s what you can do to have a positive impact on the mental health crisis:
Educate - learn the facts by consulting high-quality sources on the web, such as Mental Health America, Mental Health.Gov, the World Health Organization and others.
Stop the Stigma - reduce negative attitudes about mental health if you encounter them. Adopt a compassionate stance that paves the way for someone to get care and stay in it if it is working for them.
Advocate - look for ways to support community efforts to improve the quality of mental health resources and information around you.
Mental health concerns reach every community, every town, every state, and every country. Even if it doesn’t impact you directly, it has a huge impact on those you love or those you interact with now or in the future. Perhaps there are even relationships in your past that might make a bit more sense when you view them through the lens of the chance that someone may have been struggling. Learn from the reality that this crisis affects all of us. And together, we can put a lot of positive effort and action into finding ways to make it better. Education and compassion are key tools to do just that.