Since 1949, the month of May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. But for millions, the status of their mental health is something that they are aware of daily; not just during one month of the year.
According to statistics given by Newsweek Magazine in February 2014, approximately 42.5 million American adults suffer from some form of mental illness. With the observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, there is an increase in the number of local events and health screenings across the country. But during other months throughout the year, that number of local events and health screenings is not as widespread as it should be. This leaves those in need with limited access to the help and support they may need.
As a Catholic, I believe that all people are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). As such, Catholic Social Teaching reminds us that we all have rights and responsibilities. Human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are upheld and responsibilities are met. These responsibilities are to one another, to our families and to the larger society. Knowing that there is a population of individuals who may need access to mental health services but are unsure of where to access the needed services, it is everyone’s responsibility to be there for each other. Our commitment to one another is not just during the month that illnesses or diseases are observed, but always.
In Matthew 11:28-30 it says, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. For the more than 42.5 million American adults that suffer from some form of mental illness, they are weary and heavy-laden and need rest. Without the proper support that our local and federal governments have the responsibility to provide to those in need, rest from the burdens that many carry will never be realized. So, as we wear our green ribbons to advocate for better mental health awareness this May, let us continue to wear that same ribbon all year long to constantly be reminded of the weary and heavy-laden amongst us.