On June 3, President Obama held a conference at the White House about mental health. Mental health issues are a national policy concern, but it is important to also think about mental health in your life too. By seeking support and fighting the stigma, or embarrassment, about psychiatric disabilities, you can create a healthier world for yourself and others.
Anyone can have mental illness and around 25% of adults in the United States have a mental health disorder. Mental health is also a big concern for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Some professionals may be unable to correctly diagnose psychiatric disabilities with people who have I/DD so these individuals may not receive the care they need. Untreated mental illness alone makes you less healthy and it is also associated with other health issues like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. The Arc’s HealthMeet project works to improve physical health for people with I/DD, but you can contribute too by creating a healthier conversation about mental health.
One of the bravest steps to improve health is getting help for living with mental illness. There are many mental health resources available for you or someone you know. If you are thinking about hurting yourself or committing suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. If you are worried about someone you know, stay with them and urge them to seek help, either at a hospital or from a mental health professional. For other support, like finding mental health services, the National Institute of Mental Health website has many resources listed under “Finding Health.”
In addition to encouraging others to get help, you can also help change how we talk about mental health. Mental illness can affect anyone, but it is often seen as something shameful. This makes it harder for many people to get help. By talking in an open and non-judgmental way about mental health, we can all work to create the healthier world envisioned by HealthMeet and The Arc.