Tips for advocating mental health awareness

Learn how common mental health problems occur, and how to be a local advocate for mental health training and programs in your community.

It is refreshing to see how the health industry and media is embarking on a more holistic approach to health rather than emphasizing just the physical aspects. There is more to health than just taking care of our physical needs. There are social, emotional, environmental, spiritual and mental aspects to one’s overall health and wellness. Mental health is a topic that most do not want to talk about, especially if there is a problem or disorder diagnosed. Mental health problems are common. They are the leading cause for disability in the United States according to Mental Health First Aid.

In the Mental Health First Aid training, I learned that 46.4 percent of adults will experience a mental health illness during their lifetime. The common problems occurring are anxiety, depression and misuse of alcohol and drugs. I also learned that the longer help is delayed, the more difficult the recovery. The pivotal lesson learned was that a person with a mental health problem is more likely to seek help if someone close to them suggest it and supports them in the process.

If you are interested in helping make a difference, learning how to address mental health in a positive, helping manner an important first step. Begin by advocating locally for mental health care and/or communicate with family, friends and with your employer that mental health training and programming is essential to overall health. Michigan State University Extension offers training and programs that can help individuals, employers and communities obtain the tools they need to be able to identify and help people who are having mental health problems. Programs that help develop positive mental health such as Michigan State University Extension’s social-emotional health programming on topics of stress, anger management and parenting are examples of programming that all communities have. Peruse the MSU Extension website to locate programming that promotes managing healthy relationships. 

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