by Howard Brande
In May 1949, the National Association for Mental Health, now known as the Mental Health America Organization, started Mental Health Awareness Month. Despite this, the topic of mental health remained a taboo subject for much of the past 70 years. Discussions of mental illness invoked images of psychiatric hospitals, stories of those receiving care being locked away, and inhumane treatments such as lobotomies or electro-shock therapy.
Fortunately, we as a nation and a society have come a long way. As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month today, we see it as a vital part of a person’s overall well-being, as important as one’s physical health.
The evolution in how we openly address and discuss mental health can be seen all around us. Whether it is commercials for anti-depressants, well known public figures candidly talking about their mental health challenges, or in the arena many of us at DCG Communications see every day, caring for our nation’s Veterans.
Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides mental health support and treatment across a wide range of areas, including post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma, substance abuse issues, and the VA’s top clinical priority, suicide prevention.
While we have come a long way in our willingness to openly discuss and understand mental health issues, more work needs to be done and greater awareness raised. Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to remind everyone to keep the conversation going and offer opportunities to get more involved in supporting those seeking treatment.
Here are some ways you can get more involved:
https://maketheconnection.net provides Veterans, friends and family members, and clinicians an easy way to find local resources and information.
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may offers a downloadable toolkit with fact sheets, worksheets, and other important resources.
Contact your local Veterans Service Organization to learn about events in your community.
Finally, if you are a Veteran or know a Veteran in crisis, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (option 1)
Howard Brande is an Account Director with DCG Communications. He served in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) from 1998-2002 and is not only a Veteran but a Military Spouse as well his wife having served 12 years in the United States Army. The opinions expressed above are his own.