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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

According to the CDC, mental health is important at every stage of life- from childhood to adolescence through adulthood. It includes our emotional, psychological, and emotional well-being. It determines how we relate to others, handle stress, and make choices.

Mental health affects all of us, whether it is something within ourselves or a family member, a child, a colleague, or a friend.

Types of mental illness include anxiety (number one according to the CDC), depression, PTSD, substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia spectrum, ADHD, and disruptive behavioral disorders.

It is estimated that in the US, one in 5 adults over the age of 18, have a reported mental illness, almost 60 million people and growing.  Mental health in children and teens is also on the rise.

What is causing this rise in numbers?  According to experts, changes in LGBTQ+ laws and legislations, social media- specifically a fear of missing out and an endless desire for affirmation, substance abuse disorders among youth, specific to COVID 19 pandemic, and changes in healthcare options for women are just a few of the causes of the mental health issues we are facing today.  This is not a one size fits all situation, but a kaleidoscope of cause and effect.

To end the stigma behind mental health we need to TALK ABOUT IT to NORMALIZE IT. 

Here are some heartfelt stories and one amazing solution from some of our GMC-PCMA members:

“My sister struggles with her mental health every single day and in March of 2020 (I was furloughed, had three kids doing remote learning and my mom was hospitalized and then in hospice during this time too so it was A LOT) she was in crisis, and I was her advocate while she was receiving care as an in-patient.  It was one of the most stressful times of my life as she lived in another state and the advocacy was day, night and in the middle of the night.”

“One of my daughters was diagnosed with severe OCD when she was 12 years old.  It was very eye- opening as the family learned that OCD was not primarily issues with neatness, as is commonly thought, and it’s on the same spectrum as Autism. My daughter literally stopped eating, because her obsessive thoughts were that food and everything that touched it were dirty, and she could not bring herself to eat.   She pulled out all her eyebrows and eyelashes as a compulsion.  She scratched holes into her head.  It was so hard to just comprehend what was happening and why.  All this during her middle school years, one of the more challenging times for teenagers.  With years of therapy, our daughter has resumed eating, though her battle with OCD will be lifelong.”


Deerfield High School Junior, Adison Schwartz, founded You Are Enough and GMC-PCMA member, Claire Abrams’ daughter, Jami, is on their Junior Board. You Are Enough is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with the mission of promoting open conversations about mental health and implementing safe spaces within local communities where people can relax, recharge, and reset without feeling alone or stigmatized. You Are Enough is unique because it is run by a group of teens with a focus on helping teens.  All the funds raised are going towards creating Wellness Centers inside high schools. 

They just received approval from the Deerfield/Highland Park District 113 Board of Education to fund, design and implement a mental health Wellness Center at Deerfield High School.  They can now proceed with their plans to develop the wellness room at DHS, which will open in August, in time for the new school year. 

Maritz Global Events has trademarked a well-being E-book that focuses on five dimensions that include personal, social, environmental, career and financial, according to Rachael Riggs, Wellbeing Leader and General Manager, Environmental Strategy for Maritz Global Events (and former GMC-PCMA president and author of the e-book).  “As we focus on Mental Health this month, my message for event professionals is to focus on their own mental health first.  It is like a mask on the airplane.  You must put yours on first before you help others. Take the time you need to focus on your own wellbeing because if you deplete yourself, you are no good for others.”

Learning to deal with mental health issues can include therapy, exercise, aromatherapy, and apps such as Calm, TalkSpace and Happify just to name a few.

Remember that EVERYONE has a story and most of us are struggling with something.  Be kind, be patient and be present.    Thank you to our contributors who reached out with their stories, links and ideas.

Books and Links

Listed below are some book recommendations from GMC-PCMA President-Elect and former GMC-PCMA DEI chair, Yolanda Simmons Battle, MA, CMP (she/her).

  •       The Body Keeps the Score – Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.
  •       My Grandmother’s Hands – Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies, by Resmaa Menakem, MSW, LICSW, SEP
  •       What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing by Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D. and Oprah Winfrey
  •       Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting or Self-Involved Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD


For more information on mental health, please visit the following links:


Raven PalmerMay Is Mental Health Awareness Month