Here we are at the end of May. They say May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Is it?
I’m not exactly sure what this means during a month like this one. At a time when everyone is quarantined and all eyes are on the news, and with the regular tragedies in the mix, the craze behind politics, the list of both information and misinformation, plus all the arguing and bickering between the right and the left does not show me a sense of awareness towards anything.
They say this is Mental Health Awareness Month, but yet, it would be remiss of us to overlook the rise in overdoses and suicide attempts, which in fairness, the two could equal one. It would be wrong to overlook the rising struggles of domestic violence that occurred during the shutdown.
I am wondering where the awareness is for the depressed and the isolated that already feel so unbearably alone and misunderstood. I am wondering about the anxious and the socially uncomfortable, or better yet, no, I am wondering about the phobic that can barely stand the idea of going outdoors and the germaphobes and what this pandemic has done for them.
Mental Health Awareness.
Okay, I get it. Covid wins this year.
But I have to ask this; do people even know what mental health is?
Mental health is neither good or bad but instead, this is our state of mind. This is the way we learn and the way we adapt. Our mental health is what determines our responses and our predictions and points of view. The best I’ve been taught is our mental health is the way we live, love, learn, and laugh.
We live in tough times. We are going through economical hardships. We are living with social anxieties and emotional challenges. Think about this; about 104,000 people died as a result of Covid-19. This number is tragic. This number is the reason why we have quarantined ourselves.
Last year in 2019, a little more than 69,000 people died from opiate related deaths in our country.
88,000 died from alcohol related deaths.
Statistics show that 48,344 people die by suicide in our country and 90% of the people that died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death.
Add all the above numbers together and Covid doesn’t even come close. But yet, we’ve never dared to attack mental illness the way we attack Covid. But why?
Mental illness is this unspoken taboo. The term itself is a “Trigger.” Most mental illness goes unmentioned by those that suffer because no one wants to step out or be called, “Sick.”
The reason is mostly shame and mostly concern for what others think; most people keep to themselves as if they are the diseases
The stigma and labels we use as well as the terms we make up and the emotions this leads to is enough to create such a terrible connotation. No wonder why half of the people that struggle with mental challenges never step out to seek help.
Plus, depression is a lonely thing.
I get it . . . Covid is a killer.
Then again, so is suicide, depression, addiction, anxiety, alcoholism, bi-polar disorder, OCD, eating disorders, and the list can go on for at least another page or two.
I have been part of a plan to normalize conversations about both mental and emotional challenges. It is a goal of mine to be rid of the misperceptions of Mental Health and Mental Illness.
The death tolls have been hitting our country for much longer than Covid-19 and yet, we’ve never shut anything down. Not once.
Was anyone ashamed to have Covid?
Is there a stigma with Covid?
No. there really isn’t.
It’s a virus.
However, struggle with a mental or emotional crisis and God forbid anyone finds out about it.
I wonder though . . .
I wonder if our intent to cure Covid matched our intent to cure mental illness; would the world shut down?
Would we have found a vaccine? Or, would we just live this way as more of the same and come up with plans to placate the symptoms instead of cure the disease at its core?
They say May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I don’t feel so aware.