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July is International Health Awareness Month (3 of 4)


This installment in our series on health awareness discusses mental health awareness. Despite an overall increase in openness about mental health in recent years, this is a topic fraught with misconceptions and stigma—and one that disproportionately affects LGBTQ people, especially youth, trans folks, and those considering coming out.

Getting the word out. In the same way we educate communities about physical health concerns such as heart disease, it’s critical that we start conversations about what mental illness is, how to recognize it and the fact that it is a treatable illness. Here are some simple steps you can take to help raise the collective consciousness about mental health where you live:

  1. Talk with everyone you know.

  2. Open up about your experience.

  3. Encourage kind language.

  4. Educate yourself about mental illness.

  5. Coordinate a mental health screening event. Promoting an event or asking that mental health screening be part of a community health fair can encourage people to take action regarding their mental health. You can learn more about screening at websites like www.mentalhealthscreening.org and www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org.

  6. Volunteer.

  7. Leverage social media.

  8. Encourage physical health that supports mental health.

DTs Member S. asked us to share part of her story: “So glad we, as a community, are moving away from the “she is crazy” stigma by raising awareness and opening conversations around mental illness. Whether you have a chemical imbalance or traumatic event that connects you to depression, anxiety or the long list of adjectives that describe your mental health challenge, you matter! Your challenge is real and you deserve to be helped.


As a child, I was medicated for my depression. As an adult, I resisted any chemical solution and found that my prejudice regarding medication was a mental roller coaster ride depending literally on the sun. 95% of sunny days are amazing. And that onion analogy is so on point—each level of yuck peeled away, revealed new successes and more challenges. No one size fits all. Take a step, peel a layer, breathe and move forward—or rip those puppies off as fast as you can—what works for you? What enables you to be in a better place and see the sunshine even when in the middle of a thunderstorm.


I finally have come to terms with the fact that my “down days” will not end. That some days I need to just flip back and forth on the couch. When I have the chance to see friends, hug people I care about and raise my vibration past my mental challenges, I TAKE IT.


Thank you for giving me a tribe, a safe place, a group of people that truly care and will not let me fade into the dark.”


A few other valuable resources for mental health and associated topics are listed below; more are available on the DTs Web site. If you know of other resources that should be listed, please let us know!

  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255

  • Veterans Crisis Line (800) 273-8255

  • Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: (800) 662-HELP (4357)

  • OK2Talk Helpline Teen Helpline: (800) 273-TALK (8255)

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