Mental Health Awareness Month and Mental Illness

Hannah Sherman, Community Health Intern, Sarah Goldring, Extension Agent,, Gina Crist, Extension Community Health Specialist,


As we mentioned last week, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The month is observed with media, local events, and film screenings. Mental Health Awareness Month began in the United States in 1949 and was started by the Mental Health America organization. There is no single cause for mental illness. Several factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as:

  • Early adverse life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes
  • Biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Having feelings of loneliness or isolation


Below are some common signs of mental illness in adults & adolescents. If you have experienced any of these feelings and are concerned about your state of health, please reach out to a healthcare professional or seek mental health resources.

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively low or sad
  • Problems concentrating or learning
  • Prolonged feelings of irritability or anger
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Avoiding friends or social activities
  • Difficulty perceiving reality
  • Abuse of substances such as alcohol or drugs
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities


Mental Health Resources

Helplines (Immediate Help)

Call 911

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
English: 1-800-273-8255
Spanish: 1-888-628-9454

Crisis Text Line: Text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7 anonymous, free crisis counseling

Disaster Distress Helpline: CALL or TEXT 1-800-985-5990 (Press 2 for Spanish)


National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)


Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860 (para español presiona el 2)

The Trevor Project’s TrevorLife: 1-866-488-7386

Older Adults

The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116

Alzheimer’s Association Helpline: 1-800-272-3900 (para español presiona el 2)

Veterans/Active-Duty Military

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) then press 1 or text 838255

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