Reflections on Mental Health Month
May was Mental Health Month here in the U.S. Some call it Mental Health Awareness Month, but we like Mental Health Month, because we want the focus to be squarely on mental health and mental illness, not just awareness.
Awareness about mental health is important, of course, and so is decreasing the stigma of mental illnesses. But ultimately, both of those goals fall short of relieving the symptoms of the millions of people that live with mental illnesses without effective treatment, or with effective treatments that carry bad side-effects.
Over the past month, Cure Alliance for Mental Illness ran a social media campaign sharing images with words that expressed our desire for cures for mental illnesses—we called it Hope4Cures and it started some important discussions. About the word “cure,” one person wrote to us on Facebook, “I just don’t like that terminology in regards to mental illness and mental health. There really is no cure for mental illness, but trust me, I and the numerous others that suffer and are afflicted with mental illness truly wish for one.”
“We understand that ‘cure’ is a tricky word with respect to mental illnesses,” we wrote back, “and we have thought a lot about what we mean.” We suggested he read our blog post on Mental Health Month (and also look at the Cure page on the website), where we agree that complete cures may not ever be possible for some mental illnesses, but we think we can get closer to cures if we learn more – more about how mental illnesses develop in our brains and what factors in our environment are bad or good for mental health.
Now that Mental Health Month is over, it’s important to keep the conversation going. One way you can be involved is to call, write, or email your representatives in Congress to tell them that you want more funding for research on mental illnesses. You can find their contact information here (and some good tips about how to contact them here). You can specifically mention:
- You support funding for the BRAIN Initiative: This is a research initiative designed to advance understanding of the brain over the next ten years. But it looks like partisan wrangling might keep it from being adequately funded.
- Support for the 21st Century Cures Act: This legislation supports all forms of biomedical research to improve healthcare in general. It calls for increased funding for NIH (the National Institutes of Health, one of which is the National Institute of Mental Health), which has seen its funding cut in half in real dollars within the last decade.
In addition, please keep sharing Cure Alliance images on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! Find them all on our Facebook page.