If we’ve learned anything over the past 14 months, we’ve learned that health matters. We’ve learned that you take your health seriously, you reach out to be evaluated if you aren’t feeling well and you get tested if you think you have symptoms of illness. What we haven’t learned, is how to do that for our mental health. While our physical health is truly important and has been at the forefront, our mental health is just as big a piece of the puzzle and it’s imperative that we start to take it just as seriously. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it matters!

Mental Health Awareness isn’t just about observing if you are having good days or bad days. It isn’t about masking how you feel or pretending everything is perfect.  Your mental health impacts everything, from the health of your relationships, job, physical health and literally all the things you think, say, and do. Unfortunately, you can’t just get a swab test done to see if you are mentally healthy, and you can’t roll up your sleeve for a vaccine that keeps you from mental health concerns. Therefore, it’s important that we start to speak out and speak up about mental health!

If you are living with mental illness (which can range from very mild and controlled to serious and untreated) you aren’t alone! MILLIONS, and we repeat MILLIONS of people in the United States are affected by this each year! To drive that point further here are some statistics shared by the National Alliance of Mental Illness:

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year

1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year

1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year

50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34

While these numbers may be alarming because they are so high, they should also be motivating because chances are you or someone you love is impacted by mental illness. How can there be a stigma around something that most people have, could have, or know someone who has? Because we tend to be scared of things we don’t understand. Because we fear the things we don’t know and because we think if we don’t talk about it, it’s not real. It’s real! One in five people could tell you so.

Mental illness was once thought of as something you saw in the movies, or something you labeled a “crazy person.” No longer is mental illness something to joke about, make a stereotype on or neglect. In fact, many people we label as “successful,” “smart,” and even “healthy,” live with mental illness. These people for example:

Chrissy Teigen, Demi Lovato, Steve Young, Donny Osmond, Michael Phelps, Dan Reynolds, Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Radcliffe, Lady Gaga, Adele, Kurt Cobain, Abraham Lincoln, Beethoven, Michelangelo and more!

Are these people any less intelligent, talented, or valued? NO! Perhaps you might even now have a great appreciation for who they are! Mental illness should not be a roadblock to a full, successful, and enriching life. Imagine our lives without the music, movies, historical change, and art from the people above? All people, not just famous ones deserve a chance to succeed. You deserve a chance to flourish too!

Life is short, but that doesn’t mean you should lose hope or just cope. There are many ways, resources, and opportunities for everyone to find to help them not just survive but also thrive when it comes to mental health. Being diagnosed with a mental illness isn’t something to bring shame, but a badge of self-care and an opportunity to heal, grow and conquer. Mental health can be impacted by short-term and temporary situations, and it can also be lifelong, but the only person who can address that properly, is a mental health professional. While being aware of your mental health is crucial, it shouldn’t stop there. Mental Health professionals can help you to address issues such as stress, anxiety, and trauma. They can help you find resolutions to symptoms and lifestyle management, and they can also help you to learn more about yourself!

We’ve all spent a lot of time with ourselves lately. We’ve had the opportunity to maybe learn more about our emotions, triggers or even things that help us to be mentally well. How are you doing? Are you feeling free from emotional stressors and anxiety? Are you losing sleep from worries or memories? Do you find that you aren’t able to be your best self or maybe not thriving in your relationships? Check-in with yourself and when in doubt check in with a professional too. Your health is too important to ignore and your mental health matters too!


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center