Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949. That year my mother turned 4. According to all stories, she was a smart, eager, energetic young girl. She was an amazing woman. She was artistic, playing violin. She was smart, earning that impossible PhD. She was giving, volunteering for many things and helping people as much as she could muster.

This year my mother would have been 74 years old. Six years ago, she died from suicide. My mother lived with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. In the midst of all her accomplishments, she was struggling.

However, our family is privileged, and we had resources. We could pay for services. We could support her. But it was not enough. We did not have enough access to help her in the way she needed it. I am troubled by the fact that, if we couldn’t do it with all the resources that my family had, how in the world can people who have fewer resources do it? I can only imagine how not getting help could make those struggles even worse.

Because of my experiences, I have embraced Mental Health Awareness Month with vigor:

  • I have been reading a lot this month to find out more about mental health services in our region.
  • I have been visiting with colleagues, sharing my story, and finding out how I can get more involved in generating and speeding up solutions.
  • I have been connecting with friends and my doctors to ensure that my mental health is strong.

2018 has become a year of hope for me. I have seen a momentum, like never before, to change and strengthen systems that support those who are struggling. I feel confident that the 4-year-olds of today will get the supports they need to live their very best lives—and after another 69 years have passed we will have the best solutions in place. This can only happen if we all act. I encourage you to get involved in your own way; whether it is reaching out to a loved one, sharing your own story, or joining an effort to strengthen our communities.

– Sara Miller, Chief Executive Officer

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