May is Mental Health Awareness Month

An estimated 23 percent of American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year. These adults are members of our family, our friends, our co-workers, and our neighbors.

Observing Mental Health Awareness Month during May is a good initiative to education families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and those who have mental disorders about illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorder, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia.

However, it is important that this educational effort not cease at the end of May.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard as declared May as Mental Health Awareness Month in South Dakota.

Stigma and stereotypes associated with mental illnesses can keep those living with such an illness from seeking treatment that could improve their quality of life and help them manage the illness effectively. Currently, two-thirds of the 44 million Americans who have been diagnosed with a mental illness are not receiving treatment for their illness even though treatment success has increased to 60 to 80 percent in recent years.

Education is essential to encourage individuals to seek treatment, which can be a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and support services. For example, key elements of successful treatment include family, peer and community support, as well as teaching individuals to manage their symptoms.

Treatments also need to be tailored to the individual and his or her illness, as certain medications and therapies tend to work better for different types of illnesses.

If you have specific concerns about your mental health, contact your primary care physician, who can refer you to a mental health professional.

For many years Mental Health Awareness Month has helped to improve the health and lives of millions of Americans. This year, we want even more people to know that caring for their minds as well as their bodies helps keep them productive, healthy and happy in aspects of life: At work, at home and at school.

This message is brought to you by South Dakota Advocacy Services. Feel free to visit our web page at or call us at (800) 658-4782.

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