Trending: How the Stigma of Mental Health is Changing with Pop Culture

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Now more than ever, TV series and movies have been showing characters coping with mental illness while a growing list of celebrities have been speaking out about their own struggles with mental health disorders, helping to continue the national conversation about mental health.

Though mental health has long been considered a taboo topic, men, in particular, have had difficulties speaking about their emotions due to long-standing societal norms. Men are much less likely to seek treatment for mental health concerns compared to women. Recently, however, this attitude has shifted as more male celebrities and athletes have started to speak out about their battles with mental illness.

Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love wrote an article this past March about his experiences with anxiety, including a panic attack mid-game last year, and urged people to understand the reality and prevalence of mental illness.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a former athlete and now a popular actor, revealed his past battles with depression during his teen and early adult years. He encouraged men, in particular, to speak to someone and ask for help rather than bottling up their emotions.

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has also been open about his struggle with depression and how it almost destroyed his career. Phelps credits therapy for helping him through his depression and, like Love, encourages anyone struggling to visit a therapist.

A common theme throughout these stories is asking for help. Seeing well-known and admired figures reach out for help influences others to seek help for themselves. When major figures speak about their personal experiences with controversial issues like mental illness, the conversation surrounding those issues usually becomes more normalized. Asking for help and seeking treatment for mental illness are both instrumental in getting better.

At Gateway, a team of therapists and counselors work with patients to help them understand and treat the underlying causes of their substance use, not just their addiction. If you or a loved one is considering Gateway as a treatment option, click here to learn more.

Let’s Talk Mental Health: SAMHSA Offers Tools to Take Action

mental health and substance dependencyMental health issues can significantly decrease a person’s quality of life and well-being. And more people than you realize suffer with mental health problems. During the past year, one in five American adults aged 18 or older, or 45.6 million people, had mental health disorders, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

To make matters worse, mental health issues are often exacerbated by substance abuse. In fact, a recent SAMHSA report found that adults who had   in the past year were more than three times as likely to have met the criteria for substance dependency or abuse in that period than those who had not experienced mental health problems in the past year (17.5% versus 5.8%).

To help communities start talking about mental health and address misperceptions about people with mental health disorders, SAMHSA has developed a free toolkit.

The SAMHSA toolkit includes:

  • An Information Brief-Provides data and other facts regarding mental health and mental illness and how communities can: improve prevention of mental illnesses, promotion of mental health and recovery supports available in their communities.
  • A Discussion Guide-Intended for use in holding community conversation meetings, the guide provides discussion questions and an overall structure for dialogue and engagement on mental health issues.
  • A Planning Guide-Describes a variety of ways in which anyone can facilitate their community conversations and take the next steps at the local level to raise awareness about mental health and promote access to mental health services.

Mental health issues in our communities are complex and challenging. But, by coming together, increasing our understanding and raising awareness, we can make a difference.

If you know someone who is suffering with mental illness and using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, Gateway Foundation can help. A free and confidential consultation may be scheduled by calling Gateway Foundation’s 24-Hour Helpline at (877) 505-HOPE (4673).

To review the SAMSHA report findings, visit: samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2k11MH_FindingsandDetTables/index.aspx.
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