Together for mental health

Mental Health Awareness Month

Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. This May, join us in fighting stigma, providing support, and educating the public about Mental Health

Table of Contents

Millions of Americans struggle with mental illness every year. Mental illness does not discriminate, impacting individuals of all ages from all walks of life. 

The month of May serves as Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a time to raise awareness for mental health disorders and remind individuals just how essential personal mental health is. After all, mental health has been proven to be as important as physical health. 

Each year Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportunity to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health disorders. Mental disorders are common in individuals for a variety of reasons. 

It is important to understand some of the common factors that contribute to mental illness. Along with understanding the specific types of disorders and treatment available. Understanding the central aspects of mental health can give perspective to those suffering.

Individuals suffering from various forms of mental illness can feel the impact of symptoms in their day-to-day lives. Reducing the stigma surrounding discussions of mental health can help individuals feel less lonely in their struggles. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, these conversations have become increasingly important.

 Leaving mental health disorders unaddressed can have devastating consequences.  Through opening the discussion on mental illness, individuals can feel empowered to take charge of their own mental health. Those suffering from a mental health disorder are not alone. There is a wide array of support available to individuals in need. 

Mental Health Statistics

A mental health condition or mental illness is a condition that impacts many aspects of a person’s functioning. These conditions can impact a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior, or overall mood.1 Mental health conditions impact millions of Americans each year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 American adults experience mental illness each year.1 

Adults and adolescents are both vulnerable to experiencing mental health disorders. However, adults may experience mental illness at a slightly lower rate. Youth between the ages of 6 and 17 have a 1 in 6 chance of experiencing a mental health disorder each year.1 In some cases, these disorders are left unreported due to the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Causes of Mental Health Disorders

There are a variety of factors that can influence the mental illness. It is important to recognize that oftentimes the mental illness is not the result of one isolated event. There are a number of contributing factors that can make individuals more susceptible to a mental health conditions.2

As mentioned previously, most mental illnesses do not stem from a single incident or cause. These conditions occur as a result of multiple events or circumstances.  The causes of mental illness do not just determine who would be likely to develop a condition. These factors also impact the severity of symptoms and when symptoms may occur.2 

Social determinants are factors that include general conditions of a person’s life. These factors may include a person’s work, education, and home life, which impact overall health and quality of life. Social communities can play a significant role in mental health along with related factors such as financial stability. 

Environments that create high-stress conditions have the potential to harm a person’s mental health.2 In general, social determinants play a large role in not only a person’s mental health but health overall. 

Incidents or experiences that are distressing or dangerous can be traumatic. Responses to traumatic events or experiences vary from person to person. It is relatively common for individuals who have experienced trauma to show symptoms of a mental health disorder. Children who experience trauma are 1.3 times more likely to develop mental illness than adults.2

Genetics and biology also play a significant role in mental health. Genes impact how a person’s brain and body develop and ultimately function. While no single gene can determine mental illness, many genes contribute to brain development. Brain development and brain health are often a factor in a person’s mental wellbeing. 

Along similar lines, biology plays a role in a person’s mental health. Biology and brain chemistry directly impact mental health. Individuals with chemical imbalances in their brains are susceptible to certain types of mental illness.2 Chemicals such as dopamine can affect a person’s mood greatly.

Lastly, a person’s lifestyle and habits play a role in their mental health. The importance of caring for the body and mind cannot be understated. Everyday choices can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health.2  Common factors that influence mental health are: 

Substance use in particular can have a negative impact on mental health. Substances such as drugs and alcohol can produce changes that contribute to mental illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia. 

Types of Mental Health Disorders

There are a variety of mental health disorders that can affect people. Individuals may experience a variety of symptoms that impact their day-to-day life. These symptoms can be traced back to a specific condition or a combination of conditions. These mental health conditions are common among people in the United States. 

 Types of Mental Health Disorders:

Identifying the disorder that most closely aligns with a person’s symptoms can be the first step to receiving appropriate treatment. These mental health disorders can often occur with other disorders such as substance use disorder. Additionally, when left unaddressed or untreated, mental illness can lead to harmful behavior.

In some cases, individuals may turn to self-harm and in the most devastating circumstances suicide attempts.3 Through awareness and action, individuals can lift the stigma of mental illness – potentially preventing serious consequences.

Caring for Your Mental Health

Taking care of personal mental health is essential for a person’s wellbeing. It is evident that mental health plays an essential role in leading a healthy and secure life. When mental health disorders are left untreated, individuals can suffer long-term consequences and challenges. 

However, when individuals take an active role in improving and maintaining positive mental health the benefits are abundant. There are small ways that individuals can care for their mental health on a daily basis. Additionally, there are more substantial actions an individual can take to care for themselves over a longer period of time. 

 Ways to Care for Personal Mental Health:

While self-care may look different for everyone, taking small steps towards mental wellness can help on the road to recovery. These daily practices have been shown to improve mental health over time. Individuals who need care for their disorders are encouraged to seek professional assistance.

Caring for personal mental health is essential for functioning in everyday life. Without the appropriate tools, individuals may feel at a loss or discouraged from their mental health disorder.  Self-care is not necessarily a cure for mental illness and mental health conditions. However, using coping techniques for mild symptoms can make managing the disorder easier.4

Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportunity for individuals to assess their self-care related to mental health. It is easy to let everyday life get in the way of caring for personal mental health. Using May as an opportunity to bring mental health to the forefront of people’s minds can encourage self-care. Taking time every day to incorporate even one of the coping skills can improve a person’s mood. 

How to Help a Loved One with Mental Illness

Loved ones can make all of the difference in a person’s recovery and treatment for a mental health disorder. Mental illness has the ability to impact friends and family just as much as those suffering from the conditions. Through learning about mental health conditions, loved ones are able to better understand the signs and symptoms of those suffering. After identifying the signs and symptoms of mental illness, loved ones may want to have an open conversation about mental health. 

Individuals who are concerned about their loved one’s behavior may feel a sense of urgency to have this discussion. However, it is essential that the conversation about mental health be handled gently and respectfully. Friends and family can offer their support in a number of ways.5

Depending on how severe a loved one’s mental health symptoms are, individuals may wish to encourage seeking professional intervention. Through support and understanding, loved ones of those suffering can make a difference. 

Some people suffering from a mental illness or mental health disorder may be resistant to treatment. However, it is important to offer professional support when necessary. Reducing shame around the topic of mental health and holding an open conversation helps individuals open up about their struggles. 

Professional Help is Available

Treatment for mental health works. When individuals are suffering from the symptoms of a mental health disorder, it may feel hopeless at times. However, when treated properly individuals can gain the tools to manage their symptoms. Treatment for mental illness is available, and there are treatment options to choose from. 

Through treatment, individuals can use a variety of tools and support systems that enable recovery. While mental health disorders may not always be easy to detect, professionals can assess symptoms and identify underlying disorders. 

Seeking support and treatment from a professional may not sound appealing to some individuals with mental health issues. However, it is clear that with the appropriate treatment mental illness can be managed. Treating a mental health condition requires appropriate support, in many cases these conditions require a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Individuals suffering from a mental health disorder may seek the advice of a medical professional to receive treatment for their symptoms. For loved ones of those suffering, it may help to reach out to professionals. Trained professionals can help start the conversion on mental health.

Either way, approaching treatment with the support of trained professionals is essential on the road to better mental health. Seeking the appropriate health resources is essential to recovery.  During Mental Health Awareness Month, we can all examine the role mental health plays in overall health and wellbeing. Treating mental health conditions can lead to a more meaningful and balanced life. 


 1. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Mental health conditions. Retrieved from

2. Mental Health America. (n.d.). What plays a role in developing mental health conditions?. Retrieved from

3. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Common with mental illness. Retrieved from

4. National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Caring for your mental health. Retrieved from

5. For friends and family members. Retrieved from

6. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Mental health treatment works. Retrieved from