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Do you find yourself struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) and your mental health? Are you struggling to recover from a mental health condition while sober? Many forget or refuse to accept the connection between SUD and mental health. They struggle to understand how SUD is a mental health condition in itself. The reality is that SUD is a complex mental health disorder. So, what better time to educate yourself on SUD than during Mental Health Awareness Month? 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Utilize this May to learn more about how mental health can impact your sobriety. Remember that while change doesn’t happen overnight, people can make strides with some awareness. Also, consider taking advantage of Mental Health Awareness Month this year and seek treatment for your SUD and mental health. Do so by contacting West Coast Recovery Centers today. 

What Is Mental Illness?

Mental illness is an umbrella term that encompasses a number of complex conditions or disorders that occur in the mind. These mental health conditions can cause changes in one’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. If untreated, mental illness can wreak havoc in a person’s life. This ranges from impairments in an individual’s ability to function day-to-day to more severe issues like delusions and hallucinations. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), mental illnesses are quite common in the United States. They estimate that over “one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness,” averaging 57.8 million in 2021. Furthermore, they describe two categories of mental illness, which include: 

  • Any mental illness (AMI): This describes mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. These impacts range from “no impairment to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment.” 
  • Serious mental illness (SMI): This describes mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders that cause a “serious functional impairment.” These can severely limit a person’s ability to function day-to-day. 

Several things can lead to the development of mental health conditions. That includes genetic, environmental, and social factors, along with things like early exposure to trauma. Early substance use can also lead someone to experience symptoms of mental illness, which will only worsen if left untreated. 

What Is Mental Health Awareness Month?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) tells us that Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949. Its goal is to “increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives and to celebrate recovery from mental illness.” Not only does this raise awareness among people living with mental and behavioral health issues, but it helps reduce the stigma surrounding the subject as well. 

Many organizations, facilities, behavioral units, and hospitals are doing their part to spread more awareness about mental health. So, why is it so important? What are the dangers of not spreading awareness, not just during May, but all year round? Why is it critical for people to stay educated on the dangers of mental illness? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions isn’t always simple, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth considering. 

Why Is It Important to Spread More SUD Awareness During Mental Health Awareness Month?

As mentioned, about 57.8 million people struggled with their mental health in 2021 alone. The list of mental health conditions that they may have experienced is varied and extensive, and may include the following: 

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 

Unfortunately, whether it be due to stigmatization or lack of awareness, many do not seek the treatment needed to recover from mental illness. That’s why it’s critical to spread more awareness about SUD and mental illness. Spreading awareness reduces stigmatization and educates people on the risks of not seeking treatment. 

How Can You Take Advantage of Mental Health Awareness Month This Year?

The first critical way to take advantage of mental health awareness this month is staying sober. Many of the topics discussed during this time can be triggering. It’s crucial to prioritize staying sober before you can embark on a journey toward raising awareness and reducing stigma. 

You can stay sober this May by: 

  • Prioritizing quality sleep 
  • Expressing yourself through creative or artistic outlets 
  • Spending more time engaged in outdoor activities 
  • Finding and speaking with a support network 
  • Attending support group meetings as needed 
  • Talking to a sponsor or accountability partner 
  • Spending more time with friends and family members 
  • Creating short-term, manageable goals for yourself 
  • Helping other people who are trying to stay sober and improve mental health 
  • Planning or attending sober activities with friends, family, or peers 

Other ways you can take advantage of Mental Health Awareness Month while staying sober include the following: 

  • Volunteering at a facility, alumni events, or sober activities 
  • Sharing your SUD and mental health struggles with others 
  • Becoming a sponsor or peer support worker 
  • Educating others on the warning signs of SUD and mental illness 
  • Participating in efforts to influence change and expand mental health legislature 

Spreading mental health awareness is critical all year long, not only during the month of May. Consider ways you can raise awareness about mental illness, and if you’re struggling with SUD and your mental health, contact West Coast Recovery Centers today. 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and while it’s crucial to spread awareness surrounding mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD), it’s just as critical for individuals to stay sober during this time. Millions of Americans struggle with mental health conditions every year, but because of stereotypes and stigmatization, people don’t always seek the treatment necessary to heal from these troubles. One way to increase the number of people seeking treatment is to spread more awareness, but maintaining sobriety should always be someone’s first priority. Another great way to spread awareness about mental illness is to sell treatment for your SUD and improve your own mental health. Call West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509 to learn more today.