The weather is shifting. Trees buds are popping. Flowers are blooming. Even though there have been frost warnings still this last week, Spring is here!

May often brings big change. Perhaps, that is why many national mental health organizations have chosen this month as Mental Health Awareness Month.  Some might question if we need a whole month for this. I would say maybe we need even more. Consider the following:

  • 6% of U.S. adults (51.5 million people) experienced mental illness in 2019, but only 43.8% of them received treatment.*
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, but less than half get treatment.
  • 2% of U.S. adults (13.1 million people) experienced serious mental illness in 2019, but only 65.5% of them received treatment.*
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experiences a serious mental illness each year, but less than two-thirds get treatment.*
  • 5% of U.S. youth aged 6–17 (7.7 million people) experienced a mental health disorder in 2016, but only 50.6% of them received treatment.
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth experience a mental health condition each year, but only half get treatment.
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10–34 and the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.
  • The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35% since 1999.

I would say that awareness is the first step. We, as a society, need to be more aware of what mental illness looks like and how to treat it so that mental health can return. We have hospitals and clinics spread out throughout our communities to deal with physical illnesses, but most of them are not equipped to deal with mental illness.

For many years, mental illness was unacknowledged or stigmatized. Within the last few decades more and more research and treatment for mental illness has become available. More transparent discussions about holistic health – body, mind and spirit – have helped with the conversations about mental health and mental illness.

I have gathered a few resources about mental health for you.

First, Mental Health America has put together Tools 2 Thrive, providing practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase their resiliency regardless of their personal situation. The toolkit includes sample materials for communications and social media as well as printable handouts on the following topics:

  • Adapting after trauma and stress
  • Dealing with anger and frustration
  • Getting out of thinking traps
  • Processing big changes
  • Taking time for yourself
  • Radical acceptance

You can find the materials by clicking on the following link:

https://mhanational.org/get-involved/download-2021-mental-health-month-toolkit

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has an event calendar for community awareness events taking place locally that you find more information. NAMI also has Youtube videos to share to help raise awareness for mental illness and the ways that families and friends can support individuals struggling with mental illness. You can find those resources on NAMI’s national website:

https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events

Finally, the Michigan District of the LCMS put out a wonderful podcast for the month of May and Mental Health Awareness Month. Incorporating the connections between physical health, spiritual health, and mental health, the podcast is worth the 18 minutes of listening. You can find it at this link:

https://michigandistrict.org/podcast-episodes/mental-health-awareness/

I pray that you can take time to assess your mental health and how you are caring for yourself, especially coming out of this pandemic. If you feel that you need more resources for struggling with mental illness, I am on staff here at Trinity to help. You can reach me at cwright@trinityutica.com or (586) 731-4490 ext. 102.

See you next time, here at the corner of faith and mental health.

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Chad Wright