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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

This week we were stunned at the news that popular Country and Western singer Naomi Judd had died from a mental health illness. Reports state that Naomi had been suffering from treatment-resistant depression for a long time. Her death occurred on the first day of May, right at the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, a time set aside each year to raise awareness about mental health.

Some of you may be aware that there is a terrible stigma attached to mental health. In addition, people suffering from mental health illnesses do not always get the support they need. If you are suffering from depression, for example, you are told to “snap out of it,” if you have mood swings— as in bipolar illness — people say you are crazy. Worst of all, if you are schizophrenic, your family and friends may be afraid of you and may not want you near them. All these factors make it difficult for those who badly need treatment to not receive it.

This year, the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) has coined the slogan “Together for Mental Health.” The goal of NAMI is to advocate for mental health and access to care for those who need it. Mental health is a serious issue facing our country and the world. Statistics show that 19.86% of adults in America — nearly 50 million —experience a mental health illness, with nearly 5% experiencing a severe mental health illness. The COVID pandemic has contributed to this in large measure.

People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer from depression than people without diabetes, and only 25% – 50% of those ever get diagnosed and treated. Without treatment, depression worsens and can lead to suicidal feelings. This is why this Mental Health Awareness Month is so important. This is a time when you can take a good, hard look at yourself or someone near you who you think may need help and take that first step toward treatment.

Diabetes and mental health can form a vicious cycle. Untreated mental health issues can make diabetes worse, and problems with diabetes can make mental health issues worse. If you think your mental health is not up to par, or you have a substance abuse problem, don’t be shy; speak to your health care team. If you are embarrassed to do that, you can call the national hotline number at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). This service is free and confidential and will put you in touch with a local facility that can help you.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for teens and young adults. Help get improved crisis response implemented in your communities by signing NAMI’s petition. #Together4MH

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