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More than half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness in their lifetime but not everyone will receive the help they need. According to National Alliance on Medical illness, only 40% of adults and 50% of youth get the help and support they need. Mental illness is common and can affect anyone but there is still a great stigma attached to it. Because of stigma, there is a lot of shame and reluctance in seeking help and support. Becoming aware about mental health illness and identifying triggers and warning signs then getting help and support is important and could save a life. One of the main things to look out for is sadness that never goes away. Sadness that stops you from participating in life or enjoying anything. It is normal to have a bad day and be sad, but if it is constant then that is a sign that you could be depressed and need help. Anxiety, insomnia, evil thoughts or even hearing voices and seeing things others do not see are all warning signs that we should be looking out for. A trigger is something that transports you back to a traumatic state. Examples of triggers can be family friction, the end of a relationship, being teased or judged etc. Knowing what your triggers are and learning how to handle them is an important skill to have. Culturally we may have been taught to be strong, get over it, get out of bed and “be normal” but that is not always easy when you are suffering from mental illness. Be gentle with yourself when you are struggling. Developing coping skills helps us cope. Examples include keeping a journal, exercising, cooking and enjoying a healthy meal, going for a walk in nature, listening to music or reading a book etc For many black people, the idea of going to therapy is dismissed however it is best to keep an open mind because with all the work being done to improve mental health, there is so much hope and different kinds of treatment to explore both holistic and pharmacological. If there’s one thing that we all need to keep in mind, it is “Mental illness is an illness like any other.” Learning to not ignore the warning signs and talking to someone we trust about how we feel is key. As humans, we all need a support system—learning to accept support and also give it is so important. If you think you are having a mental breakdown and feel unsafe, you can call 911. You can also call NAMI: 617-580-8541 (this is a mental health helpline) or you can always talk to your parents or call a trusted friend and tell them what you feel and what is happening if you feel comfortable with them. Teachers and community leaders are also a good option when you are not sure who to call/talk to


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