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WestCare Recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month 

  • Post category:Global / Nevada

By Dr. Jason Engel, Chief Clinical Officer 

Mental Health Awareness Month, established in 1949, is recognized by WestCare every May to increase awareness about the vital role that mental health plays in our overall health and well-being. This is a time for us to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues, as well as highlight the ways mental illness and addiction can affect all of us – patients, providers, families, and our society at large. 

Our country is facing an unprecedented mental health crisis among people of all ages and backgrounds. According to the latest statistics available from the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health, “An estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older – about 1 in 4 adults – suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.” Additional data from 2021 as documented by The National Institute of Mental Health, found that “An estimated 5.0 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 20.1% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17.” Tragically, there is one death by suicide every 11 minutes in the United States, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These troubling statistics demonstrate that mental health matters at any age and are also a vital call to action.  

Mental health is an essential part of our overall health and well-being, affecting how we think, feel, act, and interact with others, and yet, it is frequently dismissed or minimized. Unlike physical illnesses, which often have visible symptoms, mental illness can be difficult to detect and diagnose. If you are struggling emotionally, or have concerns about your mental health, do not hesitate to reach out to a family member, friend, or healthcare provider. We need to recognize that seeking treatment and support is not a sign of weakness, but rather, a sign of great strength. With increased awareness and understanding, we can break down barriers and ensure that individuals receive the care and support they deserve. 

This May, Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a platform to spotlight the significance of mental health and wellness while striving to mitigate the stigma associated with mental health issues. It offers a vital opportunity to educate individuals about the impacts of mental illness, dispel misconceptions, and highlight avenues for advocacy and support. It’s a time to foster open conversations about mental health, encouraging individuals to seek assistance when needed and promoting a culture of empathy and understanding. 

At WestCare, we are committed to increasing access to mental health services and support nationwide. We understand that many individuals may feel reluctant to reach out for help or seek care; we want you to know that we support you. We believe that with the right care, anyone affected by or at risk for a mental health condition can thrive, achieve well-being, and lead meaningful lives. To learn how to get support, or for treatment services in your community, visit Additional resources like the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline (988) provide confidential support 24/7, ensuring that assistance is always within reach. 

Remember, you are not alone. If you or someone you care about is facing a mental health crisis, reach out for help. Let’s continue to advocate for mental health awareness, acceptance, and support – not just in May, but every day of the year. Together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment where mental health is prioritized, and everyone has access to the resources they require. 

Content originally published in WestCare Nevada’s The Loop newsletter May 2024 issue. Read the issue HERE.