In 1949 Congress declared May as National Mental Health Awareness Month due to the increased number of veterans suffering from mental illnesses after returning from World War II.
Unfortunately, the need for mental health awareness has only risen. From pandemic burnout to isolation and loneliness, to the economic downturn, the focus on mental health has never been greater.
But when do you know you need a therapist? During Mental Health Awareness Month, it's a good time to ask and answer serious questions.
“If you are wondering whether to seek mental health counseling, don’t second guess yourself, it’s probably a good time,” said Rheeda Walker, University of Houston professor of psychology and director of the Culture, Risk and Resilience Lab.
One of the most tragic outcomes of mental health issues is suicide, and rates increased approximately 36% between 2000–2021. Suicide was responsible for 48,183 deaths in 2021, which is about one death every 11 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“Suicide is preventable, but only if conversations about this taboo topic become more commonplace,” said Walker. “This is a good time to increase our collective intention to prevent suicide attempts and deaths by having the courage to talk to those who may be suffering.”
“In today’s world, people are anxious, worried, grieving and in tremendous pain; it takes enormous psychological fortitude to withstand such ongoing trauma,” said Walker. “Psychological fortitude is the ability to think and manage emotions and take care of one’s health, work, school and family responsibilities while navigating threats to those very responsibilities.
Walker is one of the leading researchers in the U.S. specializing in culture, race, mental health and suicide. She is regularly featured on national programs including NBC’s TODAY Show, ABC’s Good Morning America and quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Ebony, The Conversation and more. She is author of the bestselling “The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health.”
Walker is available to speak by phone or online in whatever form is preferable. For an interview, please contact Laurie Fickman at email@example.com