For example, when we identify a youth at risk of psychosis* prior to their first mental health episode, the family and the youth are connected to appropriate supports and information, which can prevent that youth from ever even experiencing that first episode. This one change can have an immeasurable impact on that youth’s life. They may be able to live a full, happy and productive life simply because they were provided information about how to care for their mental health! How exciting is that!
However, the stigma surrounding mental health remains. The word “crazy” gets tossed around daily without second thought. Mental health is rarely discussed in a positive light on the news, and to make matters worse, there is a general feeling that people just need to “suck it up” in regards to mental health diagnoses.
Many youth and adults do not seek mental health services because of the general attitude and ignorance surrounding mental health services. As a provider, this makes me incredibly sad. Mental health services can improve the daily discomfort produced by mental health disorders. More and more youth and adults are getting timely services with positive outcomes and are leading productive lives.
Events around the nation during Children’s Mental Health Week, including the Will’s Place Block Party on May 9, hope to bring light to mental health services, decrease stigma and provide fact-based information to our communities. Supporting youth and their families in finding hope-filled, positive messages about mental health is key to increasing participation in our mental health services.
As mental health advocates, we are called to battle the stigma and negative messages surrounding mental health found throughout society. To fight these battles, we must start a conversation – a conversation about mental health – in our community, at our work and most importantly, in our homes.
* Psychosis is used to describe conditions which affect the mind where there has been some loss of contact with reality.
About the Author
Aubrey Doss, EdS, LPC, practices at Ozark Center. She advocates for the use of evidence-based practices and has training in several of them. Her passion is working with youth who have mental health challenges and their families.