Did you know that May was Mental Health Awareness Month? I was surprised to learn that this effort has been observed in May in the United States since 1949, yet misperceptions and misunderstandings about mental health are still very prevalent, and a growing number of nearly 43,000 Americans die by suicide each year – a tragedy no family should ever have to face. The good news is that efforts are underway at two wonderful organizations to address this growing concern in our society.
Mental Health America (“MHA”) is dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all Americans – a tremendous and worthy undertaking. For over 100 years, MHA has advocated for legislation that affects the lives of people with mental health conditions and their families. Since their founding in 1909, they have grown a network of more than 200 affiliates around the country that work with state and local policymakers to develop and pass laws, regulations, and policies to promote mental health.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (“AFSP”) is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP promotes education, legislation, and public awareness for mental health and suicide prevention since mental health is just as critical as physical health to our well-being. Some of their initiatives include the Out of the Darkness Walk which raises awareness and support for those affected by suicide, and Project 2025 which seeks to reduce our nation’s annual suicide rate 20% by the year 2025.
AFSP also encourages all of us to have smarter conversation about mental health. Together with the American School Counselor Association and the National Association of School Psychologists, they recently offered a public webinar to address the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, and provide school administrators, counselors, and parents with the tools and guidance necessary to help those who may be struggling. Suicide is particularly troubling for those between 10-24 years old, and is the second leading cause of death for this group. While the end of the school year represents freedom from long days in the classroom for some, it also represents tragedy for others since death by suicide is on the rise this time of year. Although the exact reason for this rise has yet to be determined, factors such as exam schedules, graduation from high school or college, career changes, and other events may play a role for this group.
The U.S. accounts receivable management industry employs approximately 150,000 professionals. Some of them or their loved ones may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or any one of a number of mental health illnesses. It is quite possible that someone you know is suffering in silence. If we pay attention to the warning signs we can save lives.