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"Breaking the Stigma: The Importance of Mental Health Awareness"

Updated: Aug 1, 2023




The week of Monday May 15th to Sunday May 21st is Mental Health Awareness Week, a time to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health, yet it is often overlooked or dismissed. This can lead to individuals feeling isolated and unsupported in their struggles with mental health issues.


According to the World Health Organization, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Despite this high prevalence, mental health disorders are often stigmatized, with individuals feeling ashamed or embarrassed to seek help.


The good news is that there is increasing research and understanding around the importance of mental health awareness and support. Studies have shown that mental health interventions, such as therapy and medication, can be highly effective in treating mental health disorders.


One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) was effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Another study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice found that medication combined with psychotherapy was more effective in treating depression than medication alone.


It's not just treatment that is important, however. Prevention and early intervention are also crucial in promoting mental health. A study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that a school-based prevention program aimed at reducing anxiety and depression in adolescents was effective in decreasing symptoms of both disorders.


Breaking the stigma around mental health is also important. This means creating a safe space for individuals to talk about their mental health without fear of judgment or discrimination. It also means educating the public about mental health and raising awareness about the importance of seeking help when needed.


Mental health awareness week is an important opportunity to start conversations and break down barriers surrounding mental health. Let's work together to promote mental health awareness, reduce stigma, and support those struggling with mental health issues.




References:

- World Health Organization. (2021). Mental disorders. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders


- Cuijpers, P., van Straten, A., Andersson, G., & van Oppen, P. (2008). Psychotherapy for depression in adults: A meta-analysis of comparative outcome studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(6), 909–922. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013075


- DeRubeis, R. J., Hollon, S. D., Amsterdam, J. D., Shelton, R. C., Young, P. R., Salomon, R. M., … Gallop, R. (2005). Cognitive therapy vs medications in the treatment of moderate to severe depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(4), 409–416. https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.62.4.409


- Clarke, G. N., Hawkins, W., Murphy, M., Sheeber, L. B., Lewinsohn, P. M., & Seeley, J. R. (1995). Targeted prevention of unipolar depressive disorder in an at-risk sample of high school adolescents: A randomized trial of a group cognitive intervention. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(3), 312–321. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004583-199503000-00011

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