Mental Health Awareness Month 2019

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

In 1909, Wall Street financier Clifford Beers, along with philosopher William James and psychiatrist Adolf Meyer, formed the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, known today as Mental Health America. Nine years before, Beers suffered a mental collapse after graduating from Yale College and following the death of his brother. Mental Illness had plagued his family for generations, with all of his siblings spending time in mental institutions. After a suicide attempt in 1900, Beers was confined to an asylum for depression and paranoia, where he would witness the mistreatment of patients by medical professionals. He himself was forced to wear a straightjacket for 21 consecutive days.

On his release, Beers vowed to reform the care of the mentally ill. His autobiography A Mind That Found Itself brought awareness to the stigma and mistreatment that individuals with mental illness face every day, not only from the medical community but also from the public at large. Upon the formation of Mental Health America, Beers and the organization vowed to “improve attitudes toward mental illness and the mentally ill, improve services for people with mental illness, and work for the prevention of mental illnesses and the promotion of mental health.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults in the United States, or 43.8 million of the population, experience a mental illness in their lifetime and the affliction is applicable to all genders, races and creeds. Mood disorders are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S., and individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical illness. Adults with mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, usually due to lack of treatment. Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help. With proper support systems in place, many can recover and maintain stability through knowledge and self-care. 

 In order to fight stigma and bring awareness to mental health issues, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries joins Mental Health America in observing Mental Health Awareness Month for May 2019.  Since 1949, organizations across the nation have recognized this month as an opportunity to provide resources and outreach on mental illness, and allow individuals to share their experiences.  Beginning May 3rd you will find a series of books on display in the lobby of Hunt Library covering various mental health topics, and be sure to view our social media for links to electronic resources in our catalog and online.  Knowledge is key in combating stigma, taking care of yourself and embracing who you are. 

by Andy Prisbylla, Library Associate for Ordering

Imagre credit: The People Speak!/Flickr via CC BY 2.0

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