May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a national movement to raise awareness about mental health. It is okay to not be okay, and you are never alone. Together we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support the millions of people in the United States affected by mental illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is celebrating this year's Mental Health Awareness Month with the More Than Enough campaign – an opportunity for all of us to come together and remember the inherent value we each hold, no matter our diagnosis, appearance, socioeconomic status, background or ability. Everyone is invited to share on social media why they are more than enough with the hashtag #MoreThanEnough.
Mental health has been at the forefront of many conversations throughout the past few years, and rightfully so. Millions of people in the United States are affected by mental illness each year, and it's important to recognize how common mental illness is so we can continue to raise awareness, fight the stigma, and provide support and education for all. Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949, and although we've made great strides throughout the last 70 years, we want to continue to think about how we can support messaging until it is widely accepted that mental health is health.
There are a number of resources and materials available that can give us more insight into the mental health crisis in the U.S. and even right here in Pennsylvania, as well as provide help and support:
- Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Data Summary & Trends Report: This report provides recent surveillance data, as well as 10-year trends, on health behaviors and experiences among high school students in the United States related to adolescent health and well-being, including sexual behaviors, substance use, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, experiences such as violence and poor mental health, social determinants of health such as unstable housing, and protective factors such as school connectedness and parental monitoring
- PA Youth Survey (PAYS): PAYS is a primary tool in Pennsylvania's prevention approach of using data to drive decision making. By looking not just at rates of problem behaviors but also at the root causes of those behaviors, PAYS allows schools and communities to address reasons (such as a lack of commitment to school) rather than only looking at the symptoms after the fact (like poor grades).
- Mental Health America (MHA): The State Of Mental Health In America: MHA is committed to promoting mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, advocating for prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated services, care and treatment for those who need them, and recovery as the goal. They believe that gathering and providing up-to-date data and information about disparities faced by individuals with mental health problems is a tool for change.
- HEAL PA: Made up of state agency representatives and community stakeholders from all across the Commonwealth, HEAL PA's mission is to lead and support Pennsylvania in becoming trauma-informed and healing-centered by providing resources, advocacy, and education via a multidisciplinary and multisectoral approach.
- HEAL PA's Education Action Team: The Education Action Team focuses on education-based recommendations and supporting early education settings, K-12 schools, and colleges to become trauma-informed and healing centered. Educational posters are available for varying age groups to highlight signs/symptoms, how to help, and self-care for educators.
No matter what, you are inherently worthy of more than enough life, love, and healing. Showing up, just as you are, for yourself and the people around you is more than enough.