Of all of the commemorations in the month of May, none is more important and more appreciated than Mental Health Awareness Month. During the month of May we are encouraged to bring attention to the importance of mental health and the resources available to support it.
It’s an excellent idea to discuss mental health. We are living in a time that seems so fragile. Stress is almost a given, for all of us. Who among us could not use a ‘mental health day’ every now and then!
The Stigma of Mental Illness
First let’s talk about the stigma, prejudice and discrimination in our culture with regard to mental illness. According to an article in psychiatry.org more than half of people with mental illness do not receive help for their disorders. The reason given is that people avoid or delay seeking treatment due to fears of being treated differently or of losing their jobs. That’s a sad reality.
The article points toward types of stigma, one being negative or discriminatory treatment by the public, and the other is self-stigma where an individual feels shame or has a negative attitude toward self.
The article states, “Stigma often comes from lack of understanding or fear. Inaccurate or misleading media representations of mental illness contribute to both those factors.” An additional issue they point toward is cultural. “Stigma around mental illness is especially an issue in some diverse racial and ethnic communities and it can be a major barrier to people from those cultures accessing mental health services.”
Finally, the article states, “A review of studies on stigma shows that while the public may accept the medical or genetic nature of a mental health disorder and the need for treatment, many people still have a negative view of those with mental illness.” Read the article HERE.
It’s a Changing World
Imagine how devastating it would be to fear losing your job or not getting an advancement because of a mental health diagnosis. While we realize there are workplaces where stigma, prejudice and discrimination exist, we also know that we are in a changing world.
The B Corporation is evidence of that changing world. B Corporations are committed to creating a work environment that supports the growth and health of employees, setting a high standard with regard to respect for employees, and that respect includes employees with a mental illness.
AMS Fulfillment is a B Corporation with a long record of being committed to the well-being of employees. With regard to mental health, AMS offers a program called EAP, or Employee Assistance Program, at no cost to the employee. This program provides direct and immediate help to employees who feel the need for counseling.
If an AMS employee is going through a stressful or traumatic experience, they can call and speak to a trained professional counselor at any time, 24/7. The EAP offers help with everything from stress management and depression, to relationship challenges, to budgeting. Whatever the problem or issue, the counseling is available.
Mental Health Awareness
What can we accomplish with mental health awareness? One would hope that we have collectively been through enough in these past three years of covid stress to accept the fact that mental distress, trauma and illness could happen to any one of us. What we need to overcome is the stigma attached to a diagnosis, or the discrimination and prejudice. That includes our own judgement of ourselves.
During this Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s challenge ourselves to examine our world and see how the stresses and strains have affected our overall health, including our mental health. Look around and look within – from our neighborhoods to genetics, to the many factors come into play when it comes to mental health.
At a website called Mental Health America, there is a toolkit that includes information about how an individual’s environment impacts their mental health, suggestions for making changes to improve and maintain mental well-being, and how to seek help for mental health challenges. Visit the website HERE.
Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949, and it was started by this very organization – Mental Health America.
May we continue to grow past the stigma associated with mental illness and become loving friends of ourselves and each other.