This popular poem states a wonderful truth – we are all ready for flowers by the time May arrives. But there is also another meaning behind it. It’s a reminder that even unpleasant things (such as rain) can bring about good things (flowers). May brings forth new growth, sunny days, picnics, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and the beginning of summer vacation. Picnics in the park, cookouts in the backyard, and running barefoot through the cool green grass. May is a cheerful month, full of hope and excitement for the days ahead, after making it through the cold and wet winter season.
Guess what else happens in May? It’s Mental Health Awareness Month! Someone you know lives with a mental disability. It could be a friend, a co-worker, a parent, a child. It might even be you!
Mental Health Awareness Month began in 1949 to raise understanding of mental disabilities and the realities of those who live with a mental disability. That awareness includes reducing the stigma – the negative attitudes and misconceptions - that surround these particular types of disabilities. There are many different types of mental disabilities, and no two illnesses are exactly alike. One person who has bi-polar illness may experience his illness differently than his neighbor who is also bi-polar. The same is true for one woman who has breast cancer and her sister that also has it, but doesn’t share the same treatment or the same prognosis. No one should feel ashamed for having breast cancer, right? The same is also true for the variety of mental illnesses that many people experience in a lifetime.
At one time the diagnosis of cancer was a certain death sentence. This is not the case anymore as medical knowledge has advanced. In the same fashion, the presence of a mental illness does not mean there is no hope for recovery. There are supports available - whether you have a mental illness, or someone you love has a mental illness. Here are a few places to get started:
- Mental Health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/mentalhealthmonth
- National Council for Behavioral Health: https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/mental-health-month/
- Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/happiness-is-state-mind/201805/may-is-mental-health-month-4mind4body
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: https://adaa.org/mental-health-awareness-month
- Youth.gov: https://youth.gov/feature-article/may-national-mental-health-month
- For Low Cost or No Cost Treatment - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): https://screening.mentalhealthamerica.net/content/find-low-cost-or-no-cost-treatment
The "merry, merry month of May" will bring new life and hope for future growth. As that new growth flourishes around you, what can YOU do to promote awareness for Mental Awareness Health Month?