Did you know that one in five Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year? Mental health is a topic of conversation that is spoken about much less often than other medical issues due to the stigma associated with it. People are afraid to speak about the challenges they face with mental illness, which prevents many people from seeking the help they need.
Mental Health Awareness month takes place each year in May. This month spreads awareness on this important issue facing much of our society. Mental Health Awareness month breaks down stigma and educates the public on the reality of mental health and mental illness. It also helps remind people struggling with mental illness that they are not alone.
What is mental illness?
A mental illness is defined by the CDC as a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. The conditions may be occasional or long-lasting and affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day.
Mental illness can take many forms and does not discriminate. People of any race, economic status, or cultural background can be affected by mental illness. There is no single cause for mental illness. It can develop from a wide range of factors including genetics, alcohol or drug use, adverse childhood experiences, or loneliness.
What is mental health?
Mental health and mental illness may sound similar, but there is a distinction. According to the CDC, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. An individual may have poor mental health but not be diagnosed with a mental illness.
Children and mental health
20% of children will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. Mental illness is more common than one might think, making it even more critical to recognize the signs and provide resources to cope. Mental illness impacts the way children learn and develop. While there is not one single cause for a child developing a mental illness, many can be attributed to adverse childhood experiences. Adverse childhood experiences are potential traumatic events, such as abuse or neglect, a child might endure that can have negative repercussions in the future.
Knowing the warning signs of mental health problems allows you to recognize if you or a loved one should seek professional help. Warning signs may include the following:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Extreme mood swings
- Feeling excessively sad
- Changes in eating habits or lack of appetite
- No longer enjoying activities you once enjoyed
- Avoiding interactions with family or friends
- Inability to perform normal daily activities
- Using drugs or alcohol more than normal
- Having suicidal or self harm related thoughts
- Feeling hopeless
Your mental state and the actions you take because of it affect all parts of your health and well being, from self care to substance misuse. Around 50% of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance misuse. Mental health and mental illness can affect more than just your mental state, as your physical health can also be at risk. Health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, or stroke may be more at risk due to mental illness or poor mental health. Poor mental health can also cause individuals to feel discouraged and less motivated in their career or stress from their career may be a trigger for poor mental health. Mental health and mental illness impact your life in many ways, making asking for help and finding resources in the community critical.
Reaching out for help
The stigma created around mental health may make it seem scary to reach out and ask for help. It is important to remember that there is nothing to be ashamed of regarding your mental health or having a mental illness. A mental illness is a real medical condition just as if you had diabetes or experienced a stroke. Breaking down this stigma and creating an environment where people feel empowered and proud to talk about their mental health or have regular visits with a mental health professional is crucial to making progress.
At Pieces, we are passionate about helping people help others. We work with a variety of community organizations whose mission is to help people struggling with mental health related issues. We are proud to work with organizations like Rise Wellness Center, Mask Off Panel, Adult Rehab Ministries, and Austin Area Mental Health Consumers.These organizations do great work offering assistance to individuals struggling with mental health related issues. Mental health is something to be taken very seriously so we recognize the importance of having the proper resources to serve your clients and keep track of their goals.
We know it is extremely important for community organizations to be able to both keep track of their data and connect with fellow organizations in their community. Pieces Connect allows them to do that and more! Pieces Connect is a cloud-based case management software that assists organizations that provide support to individuals facing mental health challenges. Sometimes individuals with mental illness may need additional support from resources in their community such as transportation or housing. Pieces Connect offers a robust, up-to-date referral directory that makes it easy for organizations to refer a client to another organization in your community and promotes closed-loop referrals which ensure that your client gets the extra help that they need. Pieces Connect helps organizations across the community stay connected and fulfill their mission. We also have a free online resource directory, Pieces Guide, that allows individuals to easily search for resources in their community to find the help they need.