May Is Mental Health Awareness Month, and It’s Time We Finally Talk About It

 

Well, on top of being Better Hearing and Speech Month and Arthritis Awareness Month, May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. I have mixed feelings about this — while I understand we need to spread awareness and discussion of mental health issues, it’s sad to me that in 2021 Mental Health is still a separate discussion from “health” in general.

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As the mother of a child who has struggled with mental health, addiction, and suicidal actions, I’m going to tell you that there is no time like the present to have frank, open, and honest discussions with your children and loved ones about mental healthThis is quite literally a life or death situation we are dealing with and so many families are losing their children to mental health issues. It’s heartbreaking. 

I almost lost my child. What saved their life in that moment was how open I had been with them and their friends about these issues. They felt safe to call me and to reach out just in time, thankfully. I don’t tell the story because it isn’t my story to tell and while I’m very open with my readers, my kids have a reasonable right to their privacy

Many years ago, when my child first started having obvious struggles with mental health, I was completely taken aback. I didn’t know who to turn to for advice, commiseration, or help. I was comfortable calling my mom friends to ask for an orthodontist recommendation, but for mental health? It felt shameful or like I was admitting I was a bad parent. I had to really sit with that feeling and examine where it came from. 

Once I was open about what we were dealing with as a family, SO many of my friends admitted they had similar struggles as well but had never spoken about it. I strongly believe the time has come to speak openly and without shame — mental health is health, period. If your brain requires a specific medication in order to function properly (whether it’s for anxiety, depression, addiction, bipolar, etc.), how is that different from a diabetic who requires insulin? Would anyone be embarrassed to admit they are diabetic? Of course not! So why do we hide our treatment and diagnosis of mental health disorders?

Over HALF of all people in the United States will deal with mental health issues at some point in their life. And when it comes to children, 7.4% of ages 3 to 17 (aka 4.5 million) have a diagnosed behavior problem, while a 2016 survey found that one in six children in the U.S. ages 6 to 17 have a treatable mental disorder. 

 
 
 
 
 
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It’s time to normalize getting healthcare for mental health — therapy, treatment, medication, all of it. It’s time for health insurance providers to cover these health related issues in the same way they cover physical health. My child’s inpatient treatment was nearly $10,000 per month, while our big name brand health insurance paid about $230 per month. How is that legal

What will finally end the shame and stigma of seeking treatment for mental health is open discussions. And we are getting there as a society. If you haven’t had a talk with your kids about this issue, do that today. If they aren’t struggling, I guarantee they know someone who is.


Resources

If you or a loved one are struggling with your mental health and need guidance, we recommend the following helplines and support networks in an emergency:

– National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

– SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

– NAMI HelpLine (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m., ET.) – 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org

– The Trevor Project – 1-866-488-7386 

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To learn more about mental health and find resources, these websites can help:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

National Institute of Mental Health

Al-Anon and Al-Teen

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How do you plan on talking to your children about this? Do you have any resources to recommend? Let us know in the comments.


Looking For More Articles On Mental Health? Read These:

Meghan Markle Reveals “Real And Frightening” Mental Health Struggles In Honest Interview With Oprah

These Useful Tips Will Help You Raise A Child With Anxiety

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