May officially marks Mental Health Awareness month! Did you know 1 in 5 adults experience mental health illness each year? Or suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 10-34 years of age? These are some staggering yet, important statics to consider. In the helping profession, mental health is a common issue experienced by clients and coworkers. I can especially confirm this working within the child welfare and adoption system. Birth parents experience trauma and loss when their children are removed from their care. Children experience abuse or neglect, which leads to the removal and grief and loss. Case workers who invest everything they have into the families they serve only to be disappointed and discouraged by the outcomes. Adoptive and guardianship parents struggle with how to support their adopted children in addition to process their feelings about their family’s adoption or guardianship story. All of these situations can increase the risk of mental health illness. Don’t get me started on throwing 2020 and COVID 19 into the mix. In February of 2021, one in four adults reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression in the past year based on data from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, which is a huge increase based on the previous statistic.
It’s hard to imagine only a few centuries ago, so little was understood about mental health. Those who were unable to maintain in the community were institutionalized and often forgotten. Others felt forced to suffer internally and alone and do their best to attempt to “maintain.” We’ve made huge strides in awareness and understanding of mental health, but we still have a lot of work to do. On April 30th, 2021, President Biden presented a proclamation of National Mental Health Awareness Month in which he states, “My Administration is committed to ensuring that people living with mental health conditions are treated with compassion, respect, and understanding.” As I mentioned, we still have a lot of work to do but acts like this have me hopeful. At this stage in my life, I feel if you are a person who has never experienced mental health issues, you are truly a “unicorn”. People are people! We experience love, loss, and hardship. With our community’s support and the right services in place and available, we can overcome. If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. If you are an adoption or guardianship parent who needs a safe place to talk, reach out to your local coordinator. We are here for you. You are not alone.
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Brittney Engelhard, LBSW