Back in 1949 US Congress established Mental Health Awareness Month due to all the soldiers returning from World War II who were suffering from mental illnesses. However it wasn’t until 1980 that PTSD was recognized as a disorder and added to the DSM-III. And it wasn’t until years later that it was determined that PTSD could be attributed to any significant traumatic event and not just caused by experiences during a war.
The main character in my book is bipolar. I know a handful of people who struggle with this disorder. The appropriate medication and therapy are helpful. However there is a high incidence of people who stop taking meds and stop going for therapy when they begin to feel better. My character is one of those and it has led to other problems including substance abuse as well as failed relationships.
Post Covid, psychiatrists and psychologists are even more in demand. The pharmaceutical companies are enjoying a booming business. On the downside, the problem of homelessness has escalated and the crime rate has risen. Suicidal ideation has become more common and suicide attempts have increased. Sadly the suicide rate is also on the rise again.
The stigma of having a mental health condition is still there. A chemical imbalance in the brain is not viewed in the same way as a broken leg or hypertension or any other number of physical problems. The public still requires further education when it comes to matters of depression and anxiety. People often state that they don’t know what to say to people struggling with depression. Sometimes it’s not the words. It’s the actions that count. Let a person know that you care about them. That is certain to make a difference in their life.
Several years ago I experienced a major depression. While medication and therapy were helpful, a hug from a friend was just as important. You don’t want to go out for coffee today Karen? Fine. Then I’m bringing it to you. We’d often sit in silence but that didn’t matter. You cared enough to be by my side. How about if we go out for a drive? Amazing what a change in scenery can do.
Words can’t describe the incredible comfort I got from my dog. Koal would snuggle up with me for hours on end. He would amuse me when he played with a squeak toy or chased after a ball. Yes, animals are right up there when it comes to providing support when we are hurting. In all honesty, he was my major source of unconditional love at a very dark time in my life.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I encourage you to reach out to someone who is struggling. Knowing that someone cares will make all the difference in the world to that person.