As you may know, May is Mental Health Month, an annual observance designed to increase awareness about mental health and mental illness. Good mental health is essential to overall health and personal well-being. It also contributes to the ability to lead a healthy, balance and productive life. Since 1949, Mental Health America and their affiliates across the country have led the observance of May as Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), mental health and substance use disorders affect people from all walks of life and all age groups. These illnesses are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable, and many people do recover. Unfortunately, many people do not seek treatment for mental health issues for several reasons. They may not be completely aware of the extent of their problem, they may be hesitant to contact a mental health professional because they fear they will be stigmatized, or they may not know how to access services. Yet overall, the quality of life is greatly improved when a person with a mental health concern or problem seeks help and receives appropriate treatment from a qualified professional.
Addressing the mental health needs of a child is the responsibility of everyone in their circle of influence, including parents, teachers, coaches, doctors, and other community leaders. One of the leading causes of suicide attempts across all ages is depression. Mental or addictive disorders are associated with 90% of suicides. In 2020, the most recent figures available, suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth ages 10 – 24 in Illinois. In a survey conducted by the CDC, 19% of high school youth said they had “seriously considered suicide within the last 12 months.”