Tampa, Florida -
Tampa, FL – Mental Health Awareness Month, held every year in May, joins people across the United States in the effort to raise awareness about mental illness, providing educational resources, services, and support to those living with mental health conditions, as well as their friends, families, and caregivers.
The goals of Mental Health Awareness Month are to ensure that the millions of Americans experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues are better understood by their community, and that, through policy changes, expanded services, and less overall stigmatization, they can receive the help they need. This includes therapy, counseling, prescription medications, and other treatments.
The theme for this year’s awareness month is “Together for Mental Health.” Each May, a wide range of affiliates come together to reach out through social media posts, blogs, in-person events, free health screenings, videos, and sharing of personal stories to raise awareness, fight stigmas, and advocate for better mental health care policies.
Every day people are joining in the cause by making personal pledges to be “stigma free”, a pledge to remain non-judgmental and to view a person with a mental illness without attaching social stigmas while educating themselves on the different forms of mental illness and their treatments and therapy programs. Others are fundraising, attending conventions and awareness events, and sharing personal stories to help those with mental illness feel less alone.
Awareness is extremely important when it comes to treating mental illness. A recent study by Johns Hopkins University concluded that approximately one in four American adults have a mild to severe mental illness, with young adults (aged 18 to 25) making up the majority of this population. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, under half of those who have received a diagnosis for mental illness are receiving proper treatment (medication, doctor’s care, therapy, etc.)
The reasons why people don’t receive care can range from a lack of resources in their area (rural communities typically have fewer options like suicide prevention initiatives and crisis care than urban centers), to not knowing how to access resources, to their own internalized shame for losing control. There is also a stigma surrounding mental illness that is difficult to overcome, especially if a person loses the ability or motivation to advocate for themselves or suffers from a disorder characterized by social phobia. Many times, loved ones either don’t understand or don’t know how to help, leading to fractured relationships and a loss of support.
Mental illness and substance use disorders are intricately connected. WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, Newsweek Magazine’s #1 Rated addiction treatment center in Florida, is sharing helpful resources for Mental Health Awareness Month on its website, in blog posts, and on social media, especially when it comes to dual diagnosis treatment programs for co-occuring substance abuse and mental health disorders.
Dual diagnosis occurs for multiple reasons. People experiencing mental health challenges are more likely to develop an addiction because it's common to turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with difficult emotions. Additionally, substance abuse can cause or exacerbate symptoms of mental illness. Also, substance abuse and mental illness share many of the same risk factors including adverse childhood experiences, prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, genetic factors, income level, and employment status.
Because mental health and substance use disorders are so deeply intertwined, it’s important to treat both issues simultaneously in a dual diagnosis treatment program to give the best possible chance of long-term recovery. Effective dual diagnosis treatment may include medication, dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, trauma therapy, and family counseling.
Due to the anxiety, social isolation, grief and trauma many people faced during the COVID 19 pandemic, these services are more in demand than ever. WhiteSands is dedicated to helping those suffering from mental illness and addiction with a multifaceted continuum of care that includes medical detox, inpatient residential treatment, outpatient rehab, a life-skills program, sober living and a strong sober community of peers and experts.
When community leaders like WhiteSands work to educate the public, awareness of mental health and substance use disorders expands and helpful information and resources can reach the people who need it most. Understanding how mental health and substance use disorders can affect the people in your life opens a pathway for effective care for those who are struggling. This Mental Health Awareness Month, help break the stigma and join WhiteSands in raising awareness about mental illness and effective treatment options.
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