Mental health is an increasingly relevant topic. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five American adults experience a mental health issue in their life time. Moreover, additional sources note that in a yearly period, one in 10 young adults experience a period of major depression and one in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
Despite the prevalence of mental health issues in our society, a number of Americans continue to live their lives without the mental health care they need. Much of this is due to lack of proper access but the perception of stigma and shame is also a major deterrent. In a nod to Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to focus on the positive, gradual erosion of mental health stigma. There are a number of indicators that have come to my attention that give me some assurance that a day will come when mental health will no longer be the “elephant in the room”.
If you know a millennial, he/she has most likely had a laugh at the growing popularity of social memes that make light of therapy. The structure of the meme is essentially a conversation between a client and their therapist. The content is humorous and makes light of a serious subject like depression, poor coping skills, avoidance, etc. In addition to therapy memes, social media is filled with tweets and blogs about individuals and their therapeutic experiences. This is truly a sign of the times! It is literally a visual shift in how younger society openly embraces mental health and the utilization of therapeutic services. This makes me hopeful because these memes generate conversations about therapy, which in turn leads to more insight and awareness.
Mental health is often magnified in television and movies. For many Americans, movies and television shows that touch on mental health force a conversation. At the moment, the movie that has the mental health community buzzing is the recently released Joker. Many critics feel that the movie should come with a trigger warning due to the dark content of the movie. Criticism also includes talk of glamorizing mental illness.
Another popular piece of cinema that recently caused a stir was Netflix’s series, 13 Reasons Why. The movie touched on the topic of suicide and depression. It was also particularly impactful because the series appealed to younger, high school audiences. My point being, as controversial as these examples are, they have generated a conversation that is relevant to mental health. In many cases, these are conversations that are long overdue.
Mental Health Days
This has become a popular inclusion in many companies across the nation. More importantly, it is steadily becoming more accepted and, even, encouraged. I consider this to be one of the most important signs of progress in the push for mental health consciousness.
For questions or if you are seeking mental health help, please contact the Amy Wine Counseling Center at (832) 421-8714.