Thursday, November 14, 2013

Eliminate the Stigma of Mental Illness

“I am participating in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the California Mental Health Services Authority. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.” I'm honored to announce my participation in Each Mind Matters Ambassador Program as to highlight awareness for Mental Illness and Mental Health Challenges surrounding the holiday season.
The school district with which I work experienced a loss of a student recently. The student, a victim of school bullying, had experienced challenges in dealing with academic, social, and familial pressures. He succumbed to suicide on a bridge right in front of his high school, with many of his peers watching. Most people don't know that nearly one-third of California’s 9th and 11th grade public school students reported extended feelings of sadness/hopelessness in the last year.

In my work as a school counselor, I deal with students and mental health issues often. I help students talk about their feelings and provide guidance on how they can help themselves heal and cope from what bothers them. Guiding parents on how to help their children is the first step in helping families support a child with mental illness. Families need to understand that many people deal with mental illness and that it just doesn't happen to "those people". 

Many individuals, and their families, do not seek help for their mental health issues for fear of the stigma that comes along with mental illness. Some of the myths that accompany those who deal with mental illness is that they are dangerous and should be avoided, or that the mental illness is for life and cannot be treated. 

Mental illness accounts for, at most, 3 percent of all violence committed in the U.S. People with serious mental health challenges are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Also, not only is treatment available, but full recovery is possible. With support and treatment, between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life.

A great resources to help individuals and families dealing with mental illness in San Diego is It's Up to Us, The share the warning signs of mental illness, as well as resources to get help.

As each holiday seasons comes, it is a time for me to reflect on the year and count my many blessings. I think of the many students and families I've been able to help obtain the resources they need to overcome their mental health issues and lead productive and successful lives. As you too share the holidays with your loved ones, talk about the mental health challenges we all face and how we are to be thankful for the help of others overcome our individual obstacles.

Please stay tuned for my follow up posts with Each Mind Matters Ambassador Program over the next few the next few months!

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