What is Mental Health Month?
By Jamie Mullen, MD, Executive Director, Medical Affairs and Strategic Development, AstraZeneca
This is the first in a two-part series of entries focusing on mental health awareness. Today’s post provides background on Mental Health Month and the impact of mental health disorders.
May is Mental Health Month – established by Mental Health America, this is a time to focus on the importance and need to increase awareness and education surrounding mental illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that about 25 percent of adults in the United States have a mental illness, and nearly 50 percent of US adults will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime. There are a number of mental illnesses, including conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
This year’s theme – Pathways to Wellness – focuses on the need to educate people on how to improve overall mental health. Additionally, Mental Health Month events and activities hope to equip people with tools to manage mental health conditions, as well as discuss the impact mental illness has on a person’s quality of life.
As a medical professional with more than 25 years of psychiatry experience, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges one can face while living with a mental illness. These include stigmatization, inequitable access to health care and medications, changed roles in the family and the workplace, a sense of isolation, impaired functioning, and uncertainty about the future. With more than 1 in 4 American having mental illness, it is important to take the opportunity to continue to raising awareness for the overall importance of improving mental health.