Mental illness, a physical illness of the brain, makes it difficult for people to cope with regular life because it causes disturbances in behavior, thinking, energy and emotions. Brain chemistry, genetics, trauma, brain structure and medical conditions have all been found to be causes of the disease. The most common health conditions are anxiety and mood disorders.
Affecting over 40 million Americans, mental illness is often misunderstood despite its reach and prevalence and often left untreated because lack of access to services or feelings of shame.
Therefore, October is Mental Illness Awareness Month to inform people how common the condition is and encourage those suffering to seek help.
Here are few things you can do to help if you know someone with a mental illness:
- Show respect and acceptance. For someone struggling with mental health, being seen as an individual and not as his or her illness can make a huge difference.
- Educate yourself. The more you know, the better you can support those suffering.
- Advocate in your community. Mental illness affects almost everyone, directly or indirectly, so raising awareness will hopefully lead to more access to mental health care for all.