Mental Health Awareness Month: Working to End Stigmas and Provide Access to Care

May is Mental Health Awareness Month – a time for the world to come together to recognize the importance of mental health and well being, and to understand the complexities that surround ending so many of the barriers for mental health. Several organizations have been stepping up in big ways to support the movement to destigmatize conversations around mental health. While the news grows more troubling each day, it is exciting and even necessary to celebrate the important milestones that are being made to both change the narrative around mental health and provide the resources that are a lifeline to many.

Give an Hour, led by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, has been at the fore of these efforts. Give an Hour is dedicated to providing free mental health services to veterans and at-risk youth. In 2015, Give an Hour launched The Campaign to Change Direction, which is a collective call to action to help people to recognize the five signs of emotional suffering and inspire them to take appropriate action. The hope is that by knowing what the signs, we can identify when someone is in need of help and better support them.

Breaking down the stigmas around mental health is no easy task, but there’s hope. In a short period of time, we can already see and feel a greater understanding, as evidenced by an entire month dedicated to the issue.  Moreover, we are seeing more people, healthcare workers and the general public, equipped with the tools to recognize the signs that someone is struggling and intervening.

We know that these are only the first steps of many to really dismantle the barriers around mental health conversations and ensure all people can access crucial support, but we are excited about the momentum we are seeing in recognizing mental health as an important part of holistic wellness.