Up to one in four people in the U.S. suffer from a mental illness. If the number seems staggering, it’s because often those with mental illnesses feel unable to talk about their condition, with few ever reaching out to medical professionals for help. With the increase in social networks and agency-drive awareness campaigns, however, many are hoping that mental health becomes something that we can all talk about together, for the benefit of everybody. These four campaigns, in particular, attempt to break the silence that so often surrounds mental illness.
According to To Write Love on Her Arms, over two-thirds of people with depression and other mental illnesses don’t seek treatment. Untreated depression or other mental illnesses are the leading cause of suicide. In order to promote awareness about addiction, depression, self-injury, and suicide, To Write Love on Her Arms offers a directory of mental health hotlines, educational resources, and local events. Their major way of spreading awareness is by printing statements about mental health on their clothing line and encouraging celebrities and artists to speak publicly about their own stories.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness created their #IWillListen campaign as a way to connect those who were willing to provide a safe place and a listening ear to those who suffer from mental illnesses. They ask people to pledge to listen through Facebook posts, tweets, or Instagram posts in order to let those around them know that they will always listen. The campaign also provides resources for finding help locally in order to start breaking the stigma of mental illness and resistance to treatment.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) took their campaign to the streets in the form of their Out of the Darkness Walks. Participants are encouraged to walk to honor loved ones who have committed suicide, raise funds to benefit educational programs and research, and to continue saving the lives of those who have survived suicide. As the AFSP notes, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults and the second leading cause of death among teens. It is a very real public health issue that needs awareness, education, and support.
The Trevor Project offers safety and security through its social networking community for LGBTQ youth. They offer free and confidential phone, instant message, and text message services for crisis situations, focusing on suicide prevention and depression help at their core. These services are available 24/7 and are staffed by trained counselors who can help. The organization also offers many educational spaces, classroom resources, and workshops for LGBTQ youth, but also educators and parents.
Check out each of these websites for more ways to get involved, find resources, or help donate towards their causes. With all of them, the major drive is to provide openness, awareness, and compassion for those struggling with mental illnesses or thoughts of suicide.
What other national or local initiatives do you know about that focus on mental health issues?
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