Fighting the stigma of mental illness has become a rallying cry for families of the one in five Americans who, at some time during their lives, struggle with a mental health condition. The stigma associated with mental illness can limit access to the kinds of care available for physical conditions. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a good time to help fight the stigma.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) is one primary organization promoting awareness of mental health and support for those affected. Go to the NAMI website to learn more, donate, take the “stigmafree pledge,” share your own mental health story, participate in walks and obtain resources for advocating.
To create mental health awareness in your salon, download a 2017 toolkit offered by Mental Health America (MHA). This year, MHA is focusing on habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing of worsening mental illnesses. Noting these risks and warning signs will help you to seek help early or encourage someone else to seek help early.
MHA lists six “risky behaviors” that can lead to, or worsen, mental illness:
- Marijuana use if it interferes with your ability to function professionally or in your personal life.
- Sex if it becomes an obsession, with compulsive sexual behavior damaging your relationships and work.
- Prescription drug misuse, which transforms helpful medications into a new problem or addiction.
- Internet use that reaches addictive levels, when your extensive online activities prevent you from filling personal and professional obligations or strain your “real-life” relationships.
- Exercise, another positive unless it becomes a negative and you start skipping social or professional obligations so you can work out, or you feel sad or guilty when you don’t exercise.
- Shopping that becomes compulsive buying, which can cause you guilt, financial strain and arguments with friends and family.
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