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National Mental Health Awareness Month

written by Keely Johnson, M.A.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month! This article was written to help spread awareness and challenge the stigma of mental health conditions. The information below is provided by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).


Did you know that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year? How about that 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year? Or that 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year? What about that 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24? Did you know that more than 48,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2018? Research has found that 46% of people who died by suicide had a mental health condition. Despite these statistics, there are evidence based treatment approaches for supporting people to learn to cope and process their experiences of living with or recovering from a mental health condition. Click here to learn more about the variety of treatment approaches: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments


There are a variety of mental health conditions. Which include but are not limited to Anxiety disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Mood disorders (Depression and Bipolar), Eating Disorders, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychosis, Sexual Dysfunctions, and Personality Disorders. To learn more about these disorders click this link: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions


How are those working within the health care field experiencing mental health conditions? Well, the Covid-19 pandemic has created an extra layer of stress for those within the health care field. As our health care students, support staff, and providers continue to provide care for patients and manage the usual stressors that are associated with these positions, it might be difficult to recognize the signs of mental illness or distress. Some warning signs include:

  • Feeling irritable or angry (a lot more than usual)
  • Feeling anxious, depressed, lonely, or constantly sad
  • Reliving traumatic events experienced while working
  • Isolating yourself and lack of trust in others
  • Experiencing compassion fatigue, burnout, or moral injury
  • Struggling to sleep or oversleeping
  • New or increased substance use
  • Thoughts of dying or wishing to fall asleep and never wake up
    • Some warning signs include: increase use of alcohol or drug use, aggressive behavior, withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Experiencing physical issues that impact you in unexpected ways
    • Digestive and/or appetite problems
    • Increased aches and pain
    • Sexual and/or reproductive issues
    • Executive function and memory problems

If you are experiencing any of these warning signs and they are that are causing significant impact in your life, please contact the HSC Student Counseling Office Call 405-271-7336 or email us at counselors@oushc.edu and schedule an appointment with a counselor.


For more information about the impact the pandemic is having on the mental health of our health care workers, follow this link https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Frontline-Professionals/Health-Care-Professionals


Why is it important to recognize the warning signs of a mental health condition? Sadly, mental health stigma continues to impact people living with mental health conditions and their loved ones. According to NAMI, people living with mental health conditions experience the following stigmatization:


  • Alienated and seen as "others"
  • Perceived as dangerous
  • Seen as irresponsible or unable to make their own decisions
  • Less likely to be hired
  • Less likely to get safe housing
  • More likely to be criminalized than offered health care services
  • Afraid of rejection to the point that they don’t always pursue opportunities

If you are curious about your level of mental health stigma, click this link https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Pledge-to-Be-StigmaFree/StigmaFree-Me/StigmaFree-Quiz-Results and take the test to learn more!


What are some ways of challenging and responding to stigma? The following guide provides ways we can use language to challenge the stigma against mental illness.



Though this article was brief, hopefully it has increased awareness for the importance of mental health wellness and how to break down the stigma!