In 1949, May was designated as Mental Health Month with the purpose of raising awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all.
Last year at this time the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board sponsored a series of ads to assist in diminishing the stigma that may be associated with mental illness. The emphasis of the ads was to encourage persons who may be experiencing a mental or psychological disorder to recognize that such a disorder is an illness, as a physical disorder is an illness, to not feel stigmatized and to seek help for it.
The National Institute of Mental Health in a 2005 statistic indicated that one of every four American adults experiences a mental condition in his or her lifetime. While magazines, newspapers and at times television often inform the public about strategies for prevention and treatment of physical disorders, the same is not the case with mental disorders.
As a psychologist working in the mental health and substance addiction field for 40 years, I have noticed that there has been limited information provided by the public media regarding mental disorders. Such information could provide knowledge of psychological dysfunctional conditions that would assist individuals in recognizing a mental disorder in a family member or close friend who may need treatment.
For example, such information could help individuals to acquire some understanding of psychotic symptoms, depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, disorders of the elderly such as dementia, or childhood and adolescent disorders such as autistic disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and conduct disorder.
By having knowledge of these conditions, a person can better assist a close individual to seek treatment early on or can recognize that help is needed when experiencing symptoms of a condition himself or herself. One needs to know further, of course, where specific professional help and evidence-based treatment are available. Related knowledge includes understanding strategies for maintaining positive mental health and strategies for self-help for milder psychological symptoms.
While I am aware there is much information available online on mental illness, I believe that mental health information dispensed through the school and public media such as the Tribune would be more effective in helping individuals acquire that information. I believe that the Tribune's subscribers would benefit from knowing more about mental illness, and as result, I recommend that the Tribune offers more articles addressing the issues of knowledge of mental illness as I described above.
-- Edward Amicucci, Ph.D., LICDC, Warren