May is Mental Health Awareness Month


Mental Health Awareness Month. Health awareness concept vector template for banner, poster, card and background design.

Mackenzie Zent, Opinion Editor

May recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month, which raises awareness and educates people on mental illness and mental health.
For decades there has been a large amount of stigma against people living with mental illness, which is something Mental Health Awareness Month is trying to dissipate. Through education and advocacy, this can successfully be done.
Mental Health Awareness Month was first recognized in the U.S. in 1949, when it was founded by the organization called Mental Health America.
This came at a time right after World War II, when soldiers were coming home from the army and being diagnosed with PTSD. Since this was becoming so frequent, it finally started to be recognized as a mental disorder instead of something that was all in someone’s head.
Since this was recognized, it helped bring awareness to other mental illnesses too.
Today, studies show that 1-in-5 adults in the United States live with mental illness, and not even half of them receive treatment for it.
One of the reasons for this is that mental illness is not talked about enough, so some people do not even realize they have it.
The hope is that with a month dedicated to education and opening up the discussion around mental health, more people will be able to reach out for the help they need.
Another aspect of this month is to help people understand mental disorders better.
Often times people will carelessly throw around phrases such as, “I hated that professor, I have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from being in his class,” or “I love keeping my room clean, I am so OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).”
In reality, these are not accurate representations of either of these mental illnesses, which can actually be quite debilitating to those who experience them.
However, with more people opening up about their own experiences and raising awareness for mental health, others will start to understand that the language they use matters and not to throw around terms they do not understand.
Mental Health Awareness Month also promotes taking care of yourself and your mind through self-care and mindfulness activities. Especially for college students, burnout is real, but there are things that can be done to help prevent it.
With the fast-paced nature that can come with school, people often forget to take a second to relax and breathe. Taking a few moments out of the day to talk with friends, write down what you are grateful for or even just going on a walk can make a huge difference. Taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of yourself physically and can help decrease burnout and stress.
For those living with a mental illness, it can be scary to not feel in control of your own mind. Not to mention others sometimes look down on them or believe they are not as capable of doing some things compared to those without mental illnesses.
All of these are factors for why Mental Health Awareness Month is important, and why everyone should try to learn something this May.
If you are struggling with mental illness, you are not alone. Resources are available to you to get the help you deserve. Reach out to the counseling center on campus: (814)-824-3650, or Police and Safety for crisis services: (814)-824-3911.