Let’s Celebrate Mental Health Month this May!


Mental health is something everyone should care about. Mental health problems are very common in the United States. One in five adults has experienced a mental health issue, and one in 10 has suffered a period of major depression. Suicide continues to be a leading cause of death in American adults, with over 40,000 people claiming their lives each year.

Since 1949, Mental Health America has observed the month of May as Mental Health Month. The goal of this month is to raise awareness of mental health problems and why everyone should care about them. Through education and awareness, Mental Health America and its affiliates hope to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Link Between Addiction and Mental Health

Mental illness is strongly linked to other health problems such as substance abuse. Compared to the general population, people addicted to drugs and alcohol are roughly twice as likely to suffer from mood or anxiety conditions. Addiction also causes short- and long-term changes to the brain that can lead to paranoia, depression and anxiety.

In order to recover from a drug addiction, the mental disorder must be treated. This is why treatment centers like The River Source are familiar with dual diagnosis (when a person is living with a substance abuse disorder and a mental disorder). We see the whole person and offer a variety of tools, therapies and resources to help them recover.

What Does Mental Illness Feel Like?

The repeated use of drugs and alcohol can change the structure of the brain, leading to paranoia, anxiety and depression. However, this does not mean that addiction causes mental illness. Many people who suffer from mental illness use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. That said, it’s important to recognize the signs of a mental health condition as soon as possible. Intervening with the proper medications and alternative therapies can prevent future drug and alcohol abuse.

Mental illness should never be kept to yourself. Here are some warning signs to pay attention to.

  • Withdrawal in social activities; isolation from others
  • An unusual drop in functioning at work, school or social activities
  • Problems with thinking, concentration or memory
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds, smells or touch
  • Loss of desire to participate in activities
  • Feeling disconnected from within
  • Illogical thinking; unusual behavior
  • Sleep or appetite changes; mood changes

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, find help immediately. Mental illness can exacerbate many other conditions, including substance abuse.