So this month, I’ve spent some time sharing my story with anxiety and how I’ve learned to cope with the issues I deal with, but what about the rest?

I’ll tell you in researching and beginning conversation with some Northwest Arkansas Bloggers, I’ve realized that we like to think about this issue in terms of the big 3 or those people going to counseling or who don’t have it bad enough to need it, but there are a lot of “diseases” and “disorders” that fall in to this arena.

I remember when I was at my first cancer appointment with my doctor and he asked me, “have you had any mood swings or changes in your mental health?” Evidently mood swings and changes in mental feelings are a Stage 4 sign of Hodgkins.  But, my response that day was, “well, nothing worse than the way I normally feel in winter.”  While undiagnosed, I know I deal with some layer/form/version of SAD, seasonal affect disorder.

That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about…there are all kids of feelings, moods, behaviors that we lump in this cause and focus on this month, May, Mental Health Awareness month.

What is Mental Illness and what falls in that category?

  • So as to not insult or underinform, let me challenge you to check out this list of mental health conditions.  These are not crazy, tyrannical, movie-esque type people that we are talking about.  These are disorders that our neighbors, sisters, bosses, community group leader and the face in the mirror all deal with! 
  • There are categories and subcategories of the conditions we think of off the top of our head.  Research, educate, and inform yourself.
  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders.  They
    cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a
    person’s “character” or intelligence.
  • Between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant
    reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of
    pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
  • Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By
    getting people the treatment they need early, recovery is accelerated
    and the brain is protected from further harm related to the course of
    illness. (these facts from NAMI website

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN KNOW AND WALK AWAY FROM THIS POST WITH IS: The National HopeLine Network has trained counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).  If you are in an influencing position personally or professionally, I implore you to keep this handy and use it when necessary. Don’t ever assume someone doesn’t need your help…these are often “follow your gut” moments.

In Northwest Arkansas, there are a few non-profit organizations doing something about mental health:

A couple other organizations to mention:

We all have a place in the conversation.  Defending and understanding the ones we love.  Protecting and providing for the ones we may not.  Participate and get involved!

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the
Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest
Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.