“Are you okay?”
“How are you doing?”
“Do you want to talk?”
From time to time, many of us can’t help but feel the stress of pressures in our daily life. But for the nearly one in five Americans who suffer from mental health disorders each year, hearing one of these questions just might prompt action to speak up about the help that they need.
Sensitivities and fear of stigma around mental health issues may lead to a response of “Yes, I’m fine,” when “No, I’m not” might be closer to the truth. The effort to destigmatize mental health disorders gains more and more momentum each year, but there is still more that can be done. During this Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 4-10), we at AstraZeneca compiled the following list that provides steps you can take to better understand mental health disorders and where to go for resources.
Seven Ways to Support Awareness during Mental Illness Awareness Week
- Sign the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) StigmaFree Pledge. By signing the pledge, you can commit to learn more about mental illness, see a person for who they are and raise awareness about mental health issues. Don’t forget to highlight your commitment on Twitter or Facebook with #IamStigmaFree.
- Take a Mental Health America (MHA) mental health screening — and encourage others to do the same. MHA offers quick and easy tools to help you determine if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health issue for everything ranging from depression to anxiety.
- Complete a Depression and Bipolar Disorder Alliance (DBSA) Personal Wellness Checklist — and print out copies for your workplace. By taking the time to understand your wellness needs, you’ve taken an important step to improve your personal wellness.
- Consider donating to the mental health advocacy organization of your choice to support their efforts to provide education and resources to those who need it.
- Volunteer your time to projects designed to promote good mental health. Organizations like DoSomething.org connect young people with campaigns that give back, like the Heart on Your Sleeve initiative, which empowers teens to decrease stigma around school counseling services.
- Learn how to talk about mental health with friends and family. This resource from MentalHealth.gov even features recommended questions you can ask your loved one to start the conversation about mental health.
- Make an effort to understand mental health challenges by reading stories from people who have learned to manage or overcome their illness, found here from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
By participating in efforts to elevate the dialogue around the facts of mental health disorders, we can help to create a culture in which those who need help no longer fear seeking it, and when the time comes, they know where to go for resources that will offer support. We encourage you to share this list with your networks and anyone who may be struggling with concerns about their own mental health or that of a loved one.