Mental illnesses are common in the U.S. with approximately 1 in 5 adults experiencing them in any given year with suicide being the third leading cause of death among people aged 10-14 and second among people aged 15-34 years. Unfortunately, less than half of those in need receive health care services.
As many mental health disorders most often begin to occur in adolescence, schools and educational institutions provide a unique opportunity to identify the early warning signs of deteriorating mental health and help the students by linking them with effective services and support. While several organizations within the state and around the country are trying to change the conversation around mental health and make it a more approachable subject for students, there are no standards for mental health education in Arizona.
One of the organizations making an effort in this direction is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Southern Arizona. Designed to improve the state’s ranking in terms of access to mental health care services, the organization received a planning grant in August 2017 that will end in January 2018.
With the goal to educate and “overcome the ignorance, misinformation, misconceptions and apathy that prevent true understanding and meaningful help from reaching persons with serious mental illness,” the NAMI Southern Arizona wants to develop a statewide mental health education program. Funded by the Tucson-based David and Lura Lovell Foundation, the grant is aimed at developing a research-based, data-proven program that can work across all Arizona schools. One of the key objectives of the proposal is to find several schools that are willing to integrate the program into their curriculum. Part of the program is also to include voices from the community which feel that ending the stigma is worth the effort.
Upon its term completion, the chapter will present its findings to the Lovell Foundation board for approval. Though the grant has been designed to improve the state’s ranking in terms of giving access to mental health care services, the overall aim is to make the discussion about mental health more common and stigma-free.
While developing statewide mental health education program in Arizona is still underway, a national-level program is helping middle and high school students across the nation understand mental health and related illnesses. Known as “Ending the Silence,” the program is aimed towards starting conversations about mental health in schools and has been used in several districts in the Tucson area with plans to run it across Arizona. It comprises a six-week classroom presentation and a follow-up survey to assess students’ knowledge and whether it has been translated into action.
Living with a mental illness can be tough but what is tougher is gathering courage to talk about the issue openly and undergo treatment. When left ignored for a long period of time, mental disorders can worsen over time and impact physical health too. Conversations about mental health can help reduce the stigma surrounding the illness, identify the symptoms early and get the right treatment in time. Although speaking to a loved one about one’s mental condition is easier, the importance of professional support cannot be undermined.
At the Arizona Mental Health Helpline, we are committed to help you identify the symptoms of a mental illness and guide you to the best possible available treatment options based on your needs. Our team of specialists can schedule your appointments for diagnosis and treatment at the finest mental health treatment centers in Arizona. Call at our 24/7 helpline (866) 606-7791 and let us help you take the first step. Your road to recovery is just a call away!