In 2013, President Obama designated May as National Mental Health Awareness Month to improve understanding and cognizance about the state of mental health in our country. This yearly campaign aims to increase awareness about the prevalence of mental illness and stigmas associated with mental conditions, and to provide information about support and treatment for people suffering from these disorders. We believe it is important to continue this conversation year-round.
Over the next four weeks, the Science ACEs blog will run eight pieces on mental health issues. These articles will discuss some of the science of mental illness, but we will also talk about the very personal, real impact mental illness has in our lives and on our society. We will discuss specific findings in neurobiology and present accounts of real people coping with and getting treated for mental health disorders.
In these coming weeks, we hope you take the time to consider the hidden struggles of others. Did you know that 1 in 5 adults in the US experiences mental health problems in a given year? Or that 1 in 25 will experience mental illness severe enough to disrupt their daily lives? Mental illness is not reserved for the sanitary white walls of a hospital – it affects your neighbors, your friends, your coworkers, and maybe yourself. Mental illness has an impact not only on the sufferer, but on family members and friends as well. With so many around us affected, empathy and compassion should not be underrated as forces for change.
Unfortunately, mental health and mental illness are not well understood by society or as a general field of study. It can be difficult for individuals to conceptualize what is happening in someone else’s mind, just as it can be difficult for science to dissect the mind as an emergent property of the brain. The mechanisms of how neurological activity creates thoughts and emotions remain mysterious. The Science ACEs are learning more about these topics even as we write these articles and share our experiences. Join us as we explore these mysteries!
We can’t cover every aspect of mental illness in our one-month feature, but you can learn more about mental health and mental illnesses at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website: http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Fact-Sheet-Library.
-The Science ACEs team