It's probably safe to say that many of us were riveted by the news this past weekend, between a romantical royal fairytale wedding, and the capture of a much wanted terrorist. That might be why you haven't yet heard that May is National Mental Health Month!! It has actually been celebrated since 1949!! Who knew?? :) Anyways, this week happens to be National Mental Health Counseling Week! Why is this important?? Well, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 1 in 4 American adults ages 18 and older (26.2% of the population) suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. I think it's safe to say that given the statistics, we are all impacted by mental illness. Whether we have been impacted personally, or whether a friend, family member or spouse has been impacted (or even both!), the statistics would indicate that we have all likely encountered and been touched by mental illness!
There was certainly a time when mental illnesses were stigmatized (people were actually burned at the stake due to misunderstandings about the way that mental illnesses were expressed).. and while education and awareness still need to happen to reduce continued stigmatization, I think that overall, we have made some relatively significant strides in this department!! 'Mental illness' covers a range of different conditions, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, mood disorders, phobias, etc! For more information on mental illness, you can check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness's site (here) or you can also check out the National Institute of Mental Health's website (here).
If you or someone that you know is struggling, seeking professional help might be the next step. When people call me to set up counseling appointments, sometimes they wonder or question if they really need counseling. It is okay to be ambivalent about the counseling process. Sometimes the things that prove to be helpful and important for us aren't things that we are initially excited about-- we may have some reservations. Counseling can be a supportive measure that can aid in wellness and health. It provides a safe place to explore symptoms, as well as struggles and life transitions and hopefully provides strength and encouragement for one to move forward in good health. If you or someone that you know is interested in counseling, consider pursuing it! We all deserve to be healthy and well :).