As we wrap up the first full week of May is Mental Health Month, it’s a good time to introduce this year’s theme as suggested by the nationally recognized advocacy organization, Mental Health America: mentalhealthamerica.net.
In the words of Paul Gionfriddo, President & CEO of MHA: (abbreviated from his Foreward to the May is Mental Health Month toolkit for 2016)
“When we started Mental Health Month back in 1949, we did so to raise awareness about mental health and the crises that occur when we fail to address mental health concerns early and effectively…When we added B4Stage4 thinking to Mental Health Month in 2015, our reach grew dramatically. B4Stage4 thinking resonates with people, because it takes back the message frame from those who created the myth that “mental illness” means the same as “dangerous to self or others.”
How does it feel to live with a mental illness? That (#mentalillnessfeelslike) is what we’re focusing on during Mental Health Month in 2016. The reason is far from trivial. B4Stage4 means more than burying feelings and refusing to talk about them, and waiting for symptoms to clear up on their own. B4Stage4 means more than wishing that mental health problems aren’t real, and hoping that they will never get worse. B4Stage4 means more than thinking that someone on the edge of a crisis will always pull himself or herself back without our help, and praying that someone else will intervene before a crisis occurs.
B4Stage4 means, in part, talking about what mental illnesses feel like, and then acting on that information. It means giving voice to feeling and fears, and to hopes and dreams. It means empowering people as agents of their own recovery. And it means changing trajectories of our own lives for the better, and helping those we love change theirs.”
Today, take some time for yourself and look over these fact sheets: Life with Anxiety, Life with Depression, Life with Bipolar, Life with Psychosis, Life in Recovery. Visit MHA’s website and learn more — perhaps read a few stories told from another person’s perspective and think about how their experiences impact your own way of thinking about mental health and wellness.
And be sure to check back next Friday for more during CPC’s celebration of May is Mental Health Month!