According to the WHO, around 800,000 thousand people die by suicide each year, that is one person every 40 seconds. One of the major causes of suicide is mental illness. And the reality of it is that mental illness can affect anyone. In 2017 and 2018, musicians Chester Bennington and Avicii committed suicide, respectively. Bradley Joseph and Clay Adler also passed away by suicide in 2017. In the past decade (until 2017) there has been a 13% increase in mental health conditions and substance abuse. Yet, many are doing little to nothing to acknowledge the severity and importance of suicide and mental health.
The numbers and statistics are showing that the rates of mental illness are on the rise in general. Despite the fact that depression and anxiety, alone, amount to about $1 trillion of the global economy each year, less than 2% of the global median of government expenses goes to mental health. The numbers are alarming and yet no one is sounding any alarm bells. That is why it is imperative for societies, families and individuals to work collectively to break the stigma surrounding mental health and raise awareness. Here are 5 ways you can help raise mental health awareness in your community:
1. Learn more about mental health
Misconceptions about mental health and illness are very common, therefore it is important to learn more and become educated about it. By learning about it, you will be able to provide support to those in need. This will also encourage people to seek help once they realize they have the needed support.
2. Advocate and talk about it
Once you learn about it, you will be able to advocate and speak freely. Reach out to family and friends and make sure they are doing well. You can also create workshops where you can talk about mental health and invite others to join. Allowing people to see that there is no shame in having a mental illness, will help them speak up and ask for help.
3. Speak about your experience
If you have struggled with any mental illness or mental health problems then share your experience. Speaking about a personal experience can help others feel less alone. Sometimes hearing the experience of others can be an encouragement to seek treatment.
4. Leverage social media
Social media can be a great asset to share awareness. Use social media platforms to encourage people to be open-minded, accepting and supportive when it comes to mental health.
5. Encourage kindness
Kindness can go a long way. The words we use can either lift others or hurt them. Therefore it is imperative that we be mindful about the language we use when talking about mental health. Using supportive and kind words can help destroy the stigma surrounding mental health. No one knows what the other person is going through and being kind can sometimes save a person’s life.
In a nutshell, it is necessary that we all move towards creating a safer and kinder place for people to ask for help. There is nothing shameful about having a mental illness and it is important that we acknowledge it, accept it and speak up about it.
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