Mental Health Conversations and Community Should be Available All-Year-Round
May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and as a Psychiatrist, I find it a welcoming sign that the stigma of mental illness seems to be diminishing with each passing year. In the spirit of encouraging people to address their mental health in a constructive way, I wanted to note some online resources that are available all-year-round that can serve as inspiration and support for people who may be struggling with a mental health condition. In 2017, the national theme for Mental Health Awareness month is risky behaviors relating to drugs, internet use, and other behaviors prone to abuse.
A Quick Disclaimer: As always, it is vital for people to understand that performing independent and/or online research is not a substitute for seeking out qualified medical care. Online resources may also be helpful for people who are already receiving treatment and seek to further their understanding of a particular subject.
Below, I’ve listed some public and private online resources that keep the conversation about mental health going all-year-round. Some sites like The Mighty and I am Project focus on personal narratives that help demystify mental illness and help people who might have similar challenges to seek out appropriate help. Other sites, such as Women’s Health are government sponsored sites that focus on resources.
Sources that probe beyond simple explanations of mental health challenges to bring personal narratives to light include:
The Mighty focuses on expressive and introspective pieces that delve into mental health topics, but with a personal twist. The focus here is on how mental health problems affect relationships and everyday life. The articles are tagged by the type of disorder, so it is simple to search if you have a particular topic that interests you.
Taking a unique approach to mental health, This is My Brave is a mental health site that features a roving production company that seeks to knit together entertainment and mental health in an approachable and healthy fashion. Using poetry, music, and personal essays, this non-profit organization helps communities stage live shows that bring attention to mental health challenges faced by people in their own communities.
Perhaps the most “personal” of all the sites noted here, the I Am Project reveals the faces behind the mental health challenges, and tells their personal stories of in audio and written formats. The impetus behind this endeavor is to foster a community of people who have faced up to their mental health challenges. Each story is different and compelling in a highly personal way.
Government and Resource Oriented Sites Include:
This is a very clear and well organized general health site that provides a mental health services locator and links to mental health policy and research. The mental health link on the site provides background information on a variety of mental health disorders with a focus on women’s issues such as infertility and its associated mental health ramifications.
The National Institute of Mental Health is a subdivision of the National Institute of Health (NIH) and its site provides links to resources for help with understanding a wide variety of mental health disorders. As one of 27 research and funding divisions of the NIH, the NIMH engages with physicians, scientists, policy makers, and advocacy groups to help shape and direct research for mental health problems.
There is background information here on the National Advisory Mental Health Council, which advises the Secretary of Health and Human Services on policies and activities relating to the conduct and support of mental health research. Archived Council reports are available for review.
The site provides additional links to some key organizations, including:
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
Closer to my practice in New York City, there is a reference site sponsored by the New York State office of Mental Health that serves more than 700,000 people per year who participate in over 4500 local government and nonprofit programs. Helpful direct resource hotline links include:
- Common services directory
- Domestic Violence Information
- Find a Mental Health Program
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
A confidential source for identifying treatment options and resources relating to substance abuse and mental health problems, SAMHSA provides clear and simple links to addiction hotlines, children’s resources and state and local centers that can provide or guide people to mental health care providers.
For additional information, please feel free to email our office at Amanda.Itzkoff@gmail.com. To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.