Mental Health Awareness

Discussions about mental health challenges have become commonplace. Mental Health conditions include anxiety, depression, alcohol, marijuana, opiate, and other substance use disorders. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if simple interventions or black-and-white solutions resolved these issues? Many of us have heard someone say, “If you only do “X” your depression, anxiety, or addiction will go away!” Simple solutions are seldom effective. Human beings are complex, and their thinking and behavior are often difficult to understand and even more challenging to change.  

One in five people will grapple with a mental health condition in a typical year. A mental health condition could be something acute, such as grief from the loss of a loved one, or a more chronic condition, such as anxiety or depression. Only half of those people will seek help. Of the 50% who seek help, the vast majority, 80%, report that their condition has improved.  

Those who don’t seek help may, over time, improve on their own or may self-medicate by using alcohol or some other substance, which may create additional problems. We know that many people will struggle with a substance use disorder or mental health condition for up to ten years before seeking assistance or treatment. During the years between the emergence of the mental health condition and the point at which the person seeks help, the person suffering and those around that person experience a variety of avoidable and harmful consequences. The suffering and collateral damage are unnecessary and avoidable.

Over many years, and specifically since 2020, there has been a substantial effort to confront the stigma commonly associated with mental health and substance use disorders and to make support and counseling more accessible. Despite many efforts, some people still feel embarrassed or uncomfortable seeking help with a mental health challenge. YOU can help.  

Action Steps

Use first-person language. If a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you don’t say, “Bill is cancer,” but if Bill is diagnosed with depression, you might say, “Bill is depressed!” Whether Bill has been diagnosed with cancer or depression, he is more than that condition! Bill is a person with cancer, or he is a person with depression. Words matter.

When someone is upset or needs to talk, practice “active listening.” People often listen to another person, waiting for the other person to stop talking so that they can talk. That isn’t really “listening.” Let the person know that you hear what they are saying and ask questions to clarify your understanding of what is said. For many people, feeling heard can lift their spirits.

When you encounter a family member or friend that you think might be struggling with a mental health challenge, or if you notice any warning signs that that person may consider harming themself, stay with them and seek help immediately. Reach out to a mental health professional, call a suicide prevention hotline, or take the person to an emergency room if they are in immediate danger. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, there are many great resources. 

Contact your Employee or Member Assistance Program.  Call or text the Crisis Helpline for free, confidential assistance 24/7 at 988.

Contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) @ 800-950-6264 or

Crisis Test Line – text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor

To learn about suicide prevention, visit:  LivingWorks @

Question Persuade Refer (QPR) @ 

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