Dear Kelley,

It seems like there is a lot of focus on mental health lately.  When I was young, we did not talk about our feelings and I was not encouraged to do so by my parents or loved ones.  It was just a different time. We were expected to just quietly deal with whatever problems we had and get over them. I’m glad there is so much focus on the importance of good mental health and I think it is good for everyone, young and older, to talk about how they feel or if they are hurting and need help. 

Sincerely,

Martha

Dear Martha,

I agree. There is a lot of focus on understanding the importance of mental health and wellness, and for very good reason. Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood (www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/index.htm).

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. One in 17 people has a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.  Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75% of mental health conditions develop by age 24.

It is important to normalize conversations about mental health in order to address the stigma that is so often associated with it. Stigma plays a significant role in seeking help. Additionally, normalizing the conversation about mental health can help minimize feelings of isolation and shame.

Innovations in the range of evidence-based medications, therapy and psychosocial services such as psychiatric rehabilitation, housing, employment and peer supports have made wellness and recovery a reality for people living with mental health conditions (https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment). 

Sincerely,

Kelley

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