Did you know that 1 in 4 American people suffer a mental illness? That is an estimate of 56% of the population. Creating awareness is a difficult task . We make sure to fill one day or month with the “green ribbon.” But do we really know what the green ribbon means? When there is awareness about mental health it eases identification and early treatment for these individuals . These individuals could be our father, mother, son, daughter, neighbor, friend, or could be ourselves. Early intervention can help our loved ones receive appropriate care. As a result, recovery is faster .
If a loved one is experiencing some issues and you know for a fact they need to see a professional, do you know how to access the service? We found that out of 176 people, 50% did not access mental health services because they were unaware of how to . Lack of access can be due to misinformation about where to go . Mental illness cannot be treated by simple desire, treatment is necessary . We found that in many cases people may not access these services because it is difficult due to cultural or language barriers .
Awareness also eliminates stigma for these people. If we are aware of their limitations and strengths, stigma may disappear. Let’s just say, your daughter was just diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Would you like those around you to comment, “She is crazy, lock her up?” Stigma refers to the opinions and thoughts of the community . Stigma shames the mentally ill. Creates a community where minds are closed off and reject the acceptance of those who are “different.” Attitudes and behaviors move a community into either a positive or negative trend. If there is a negative trend then the implications may cause a combination of denial and hatred .
Awareness can also create new improvements for the mentally ill. As there is more demand from the public, it can produce a flow of attention. This attention can eventually result in great changes for the mentally ill. It can lead to improvements in policy, research, and service development . Let’s make this issue a priority because we have a high demand. If we raise more awareness, the demands may increase and can result in more funding for our needs.
In addition, there is a great misconception about the mentally ill. Many think these people are lazy or just making it up. There is also the attitude that these people are either crazy, possessed by demons, violent, out of control, or unsafe. These are negative labels that have been attached due to the lack of awareness. Raising awareness can reduce misconceptions. Imagine your daughter with bipolar disorder being described by these words. How would this make you feel? Why continue to live in a community where there is judgment if we could promote awareness on the issue?
Mental health awareness should not be for only a day or two or even a month. We must be informed about mental health stigma because can easily happen to someone close to us. Community awareness for mental health reduces stigma. Mental health awareness increases the chances for early intervention, which can result in a fast recovery.
By raising awareness, mental health can now be seen as an illness. These illnesses can be managed by treatment. We should not isolate mental illness from physical health conditions, such as diabetes, blood pressure, or cancer .
Awareness is a form of education. The more you know, the more power you have and knowledge is power. Awareness is key to understanding what mental health is and how families can receive the help they need. Public knowledge is important in accessing community resources. Lack of awareness of mental health is not just “their” problem, it is our problem as a community.
Awareness does not just end here. Attend health fairs, and resource fairs read more, and listen to them. You could even get more information about the resources and services offered in Imperial Valley. And overall pass it on. Talk to someone about this article and ask them to share it with someone else. Let’s start a domino effect for awareness on mental health. Don’t be scared to talk about it. It’s hard work, but the power to reach and teach the community is well worth it .
 Aferrigno. “What one update to national mental health policy would you like to see instituted in the next five years, and why?” IMHRO. N.D.Web. 22 July 2015.
 Gonzalez, C. “Innovation Work Plan County Certification.” Imperial. 4 Nov 2014. Web. 21 July 2015.
 Mental Health News. “Mental/Behavioral Health” Network of Care. N.D. Web. 22 July 2015.
 NAMI. “What is Mental Illness: Mental Illness Facts.” NAMI. N.D. Web. 21 July 2015.
 Serani, D. “The Importance of Health Awareness Days.” Psychology Today. 6 Oct 2013. Web. 20 July 2015.
 World Health Organization. “Advocacy for Mental Health.” WHO. 2003. Web. 21 July 2015.
Urias, Aday, BSW & MSW Student
Fuentes, Dora, BSW & MSW Student
Acosta, Guadalupe, BSW & MSW Student