Monarch encourages people to speak out during mental health awareness month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and throughout the month, Monarch is raising awareness about metal illness on a local level, while working to remove the stigma associated with it.

Stigma is defined as the feeling when someone, or you yourself, views you in a negative way because you have a mental health condition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). In addition, stigma can manifest into rejection, bullying and even discrimination.

One in five adults in the United States face the day-to-day reality of having a mental health condition.

SPEAK is a five-letter word that can help reduce stigma and can have a life-changing impact on a person living with mental illness. We reduce stigma when we SPEAK:

Seek treatment: very few people go through life without any health challenges. Cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, diabetes, mental illnesses, and more touch every family at some point – and often there is a correlation with the body and mind. That’s why it’s important to treat mental illness the way we treat our physical illness. According to the NAMI, 42.8 million people will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime. It’s important to go to the doctor for your mental health, too.

Person-first: language around how we communicate mental health is significantly important in reducing stigma because your mental health does not define you. Instead of saying “I’m bipolar” or “that person is bipolar.” Instead say, “He or she lives with bipolar disorder” or “I have bipolar disorder.” You come first, not your illness.

Educate: give yourself some grace and educate yourself on what you’re going through. Talk to your provider and research the condition you have, its causes and effects. This will empower your journey to mental wellness and gives you the ability to educate others to reduce misinformation.

Accessibility: from apps to telemedicine options, accessibility to treatment is better today than it has been. While not yet perfect, Monarch strives as an organization to make sure people have access to the care they need when they need it. In Charlotte, Monarch offers Open Access at our outpatient offices for first time patients, we offer Enhanced Services for people with persistent mental illness struggling to make it to our outpatient office, and we even offer Telemedicine so that no one has to wait six or more weeks for care.

Kids suffer, too: sixty-four percent of youth with depression do not seek mental health treatment. We need to transition away from the ‘walk it off’ or ‘it’s just a phase’ attitude and advocate for mental health for our youth, too. We opened the SECU Youth Crisis Center, a Monarch program, in December 2017 to help the more than 26,000 children and teens in Mecklenburg County living with a mental illness.

Monarch offers a variety of services for people who seek mental health treatment and access to care throughout North Carolina. Don’t allow stigma to prevent you from seeking the support you need. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at (866) 272-7826.

Looking for an expert for your next news story or blog post? Monarch’s team consists of lots of mental health experts who can discuss the importance of seeking treatment and access to mental health care, how to cope with anxiety and depression, signs and symptoms to look for when someone is depressed or has suicidal ideations, and why stigma toward mental illness is still so prevalent today. Contact Monarch’s Marketing and Communications Department at PR@MonarchNC.org or call (704) 986-1582.

Media contact: Natasha A. Suber, (704) 986-1582 or natasha.suber@MonarchNC.org