May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of the how important mental health is and how common mental health issues are. For our coalition, it is important to acknowledge how many people who have mental health issues develop substance use disorders (SUD). We have come a long way in how much more openly we talk about mental health, but we still have further to go in treating mental and behavioral health diagnoses as chronic health conditions with the appropriate level of care and support.
Developing a better understanding of mental health and dispelling misconceptions about substance use disorder go hand-in-hand. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about half of individuals who experience a substance use disorder during their lives will also experience a mental health disorder and vice versa. Moreover, in 2020 alone, 17 million people experienced mental illness and an SUD at the same time (SAMHSA, National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month, we encourage you share information about mental health and substance use disorder, bring colleagues and peers to events and spaces to expand the conversation, and continue to deepen the relationships and infrastructure in your communities to support people living with mental illness, substance use disorder, or both. In this newsletter, we’ll share strategies to stay mentally healthy whether you have a substance use disorder or not.
Executive Director, Live Tampa Bay