May 1, 2014

Mental Health Awareness

It's the month of May, and May is National Mental Health Awareness month. I am no stranger to mental health disorders due to the volunteer work that I do, as well as due to my own conditions, and I'm sure everybody else knows at least one person who is affected by mental illness, if not themselves then somebody they love..

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The World Health Organization estimated that by 2010, depression with be the #1 disability in the world. Women are twice as likely than men to meet the criteria for clinical depression, and 350 million people are estimated to be living with depression. Diagnoses of clinical depression increases approximately 20% every year, and 6.6% of the US population will experience depression in a year, meanwhile, 80% of those who meet the criteria for clinical depression are not seeking treatment.

The actual medical diagnosis of depression isn't merely just feeling sad. If one's mood doesn't begin to move on after a number of weeks, then they are generally seen as having a form of clinical depression. One may even have a major depressive episode that could last a few months even to a year, and more.

Anxiety and Depression photo

People who are going through a major depressive episode are at greatest risk for attempting and committing suicide. There are 4 male suicides for every 1 female suicide, however there are 3 female suicide attempts for every 1 male attempt. As a surprise to absolutely no one, a firearm is involved in more than half of all suicides.

People who live with depression are also more likely to self-harm, whether these actions are intentional or not.

A person who self-harms may do so for a variety of reasons. One is as a mechanism to relieve stress that a person has been bottling up, while another is that the pain experienced replaces the numbness they may be feeling beforehand; a way to remind themselves that they can feel. Other reasons are to punish themselves for a bad decision, or for attracting a much needed intervention.

Mimi And Eunice Self-Punishment comic

The majority of acts of self harm and suicide attempts are not harmless bids for attention.

If somebody is taking to harming their self for attention, they are doing it as a way of screaming for help at a time when they, for whatever reason, are not able to actually ask for help. If you know somebody or suspect that somebody is harming themselves or appears suicidal, they need to seek immediate mental health treatment.

Cry For Help photo

1 in 33 children in school are diagnosed with clinical depression; I was one of those kids. I was 7 years old when I was diagnosed and when I was first prescribed anti-depressant medication. I stopped taking my medication under my doctor's supervision when I turned 18. When I started high school at age 14, that's when I noticed that any medication that I was prescribed to treat depression just made me feel numb, and me returning every 6 months for an increase in dosage or for a switch to a new medication just made it feel worse. I honestly do believe that since I quit my medication, I've been better, and if you are to do the same, consult with your doctor!

Person Hiding Under Pills photo

I struggle with depression, thoughts of self-harm, and thoughts of suicide everyday. Some days it's easy, other days it's a heavy burden with urges that are incredibly hard to fight off. I've long come to accept that depression is the cross I will carry for the rest of my life.

I can never own a firearm, nor will I ever trust myself to hold or operate a loaded firearm, because not only would I have the cards stacked against me what with my being male and having a lifelong struggle with depression, but I'm also already a multiple failed suicide attempt.

Learn the Warning Signs of Suicide

Education is the best way to prevent suicide and self harm. To be able to recognise the warning signs of somebody who is at risk of committing suicide, and to take them seriously instead of to ridicule them, tell them they're wrong, or punish them.

The usual warning signs may include acts of self harm, reclusive behavior, or other sudden changes in their act of character including giving away of cherished personal belongings. The warning signs that one may be harming their self may be best seen during warmer months, with avoidance of pools and wearing long-sleeved shirts or long pants.

Did you enjoy this post? Be sure to leave a comment, share with your friends and like our Facebook page!

author Tiger Craven About Tiger
Tiger is a 22 year old college student, activist, and professional living in the Saint Louis metro area. When he's not being apathetic to the idea of God or writing about atheism, he is serving a presidential term for a mental health organisation and a board membership of another, does public speaking about mental illness and disability, and is a photographer and a bassist.