Mental Health Month 2017: Risky Business
How do you know when you’ve gone too far?
That’s a provocative question.
Life is a series of choices, and our lives are often defined by those we make. Sometimes people—especially young people— engage in potentially risky behaviors to manage, avoid, or cover up symptoms of a mental health problem. It is often hard to distinguish these behaviors from “normal growing up,” and, as a result, the people who care about people engaging in these struggles sometimes under-react, and other times over-react.
This year for May is Mental Health Month, MHA is talking about Risky Business. We believe it’s important to educate people about habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves. These include risk factors such as risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet addiction, excessive spending, marijuana use, and troublesome exercise patterns. Mental Health America has created educational materials, tools, references, and more to help people decide – is this particular behavior a risky behavior for me or for someone I love? And if it is, what can I do about it before it harms me or someone else?
Some of this year’s materials may make people a little uncomfortable because we’ll be talking about things that are often left unsaid. But “fighting in the open,” as inspired by our founder Clifford Beers, means speaking up early to educate people about risky behavior and its connection to mental illness—and doing so in a compassionate, judgment-free way.
For us, it’s all about choosing to offer effective programs, services, and supports, long Before Stage 4. To learn more about how certain risky behaviors could be indicators of a bigger issue, please check out the fact sheets below.
You can also take the interactive quiz: “What’s too far?”
To learn more and become involved in the conversation, check out the tools for individuals and organizations on the national MHA May is Mental Health Month webpage.