1949 marked the first year of Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States.  Since then, May has been observed as a time when organizations and individuals could speak out, share their stories and help spread knowledge about mental health. There have been great strides in understanding the causes of mental illnesses as well as remarkable achievements in treatment. Most importantly, the general public is more informed than ever on this topic.  Mental Health Awareness Month has made activists of us all, encouraging us to learn, educate, and break the stigma that holds people back from seeking out much-needed treatment.

People are passionately partaking in creating awareness this month and centering their activities around the very personal theme, “Life with a Mental Illness.”  To honor this theme, mental health organizations and individuals are utilizing social media to the fullest.  Mental Health America, which is running campaigns throughout the entire month, has invited unique stories via words, pictures and videos and has requested individuals to tag their social media posts with the hashtag #mentalillness. They will be bringing attention to the stories they receive by placing them on their website at mentalhealthamerica.net/feelslike.  Others on Twitter are sharing their personal stories using #mentalhealthawarenessmonth and posting inspiring quotes, ideas and encouragement.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that “1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime.”  That 43.8 million people! NAMI also tells us that “approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life” and for children between ages 8 and 15, the estimate is around 13%. These statistics are especially important for treatment providers in the recovery industry to understand because nearly half of those with substance use disorders also have co-occurring mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia as well as less well known disorders. Sadly, while some seek treatment and find their path to recovery, many are hospitalized and even die from these dark, debilitating conditions.

NAMI also reports numbers specific to minorities saying that African Americans and Hispanic Americans use mental health services less than half as much as Caucasians do. Asian Americans use them even less.  The U.S. Surgeon General reports us that that “minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care.”  In light of these troubling issues, people in the field have taken measures to address the unique problems faced by minorities. One specific initiative is naming July Minority Mental Health Awareness month.

We could get discouraged by the emotional and social weight of these statistics, but, since this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Month is breaking it down to the individual’s unique experience, we thought we’d share a few inspiring YouTube moments with you!

Here is “Life with a Mental Illness” from the perspective of a few courageous individuals who have suffered from mental illness and from educators who are committed to breaking the stigma:

See Dr. Mattu open up his virtual doors for the Month of May on The Psych Show:

Watch Jazz Robertson break the silence in a simple and unique way:


Enjoy some gorgeous mental health related artwork here:

Listen to this wonderful song called “Where Has Everyone Gone.” It was written and performed by Nicole Zell for Mental Health Awareness Month: