2017 Mental Health News/Progress Summary

2017 marked the creation of Mxiety.com. The reception has been better than I could have ever wished for. Thanks to this support, I'll get to continue working to reduce the burden of stigma for those suffering with mental illness in 2018 by sharing more guest stories, experiences and scientific research while making crafts (poorly) live and on this blog. Thank you!

Here are four positive shifts in Mental Health I noticed during my brief research in 2017, which I hope to see continue grow in 2018.

1.  More Americans have access to mental health than ever

Yes, our healthcare reform is not the best all U.S. citizens deserve, but more people are insured, which means that more people have the potential to see a professional. I don’t want to put my head in the sand and pretend the issues of the cost of that care, the stigma remaining about mental illness and lack of access to therapists in various parts of the country is not limiting people who desperately need help. But, from my view, considering how bad things were, moving towards any increased access means we can start a trend where we keep improving, until eventually seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist is the equivalent of going to a podiatrist-possible, affordable and accessible.

2. The whole world is working to lower suicide rates

The World Health Organization has declared that mental illness has reached epidemic levels around the globe. After years of research, the WHO released an official report about the state of mental health around the world on Mental Health Awareness Day (October 10). Unfortunately, it mostly details how poorly various countries and regions are handling the issue. What I am happy to see is that they have offered a list of actions to be taken in order to remedy the situation (hGAP). I recommend you look over the report yourself. Carefully look over the data offered and take special note on items you can help make better in your local community. Heck, even in your family. Rippling out, we just might slowly be able to make some good changes in 2018.

3. Social Media is Helping

From #MentalHealthAwarenessDay to #mymentalhealthin5words, Twitter has been abuzz with new voices, ready to share their opinions and experiences. Other than that, Facebook groups have popped up where people can share and support each other in real time. Some are sharing their experiences and knowledge via YouTube. An internet friend of mine started working on a crisis app. Instagram has people sharing their experiences, sometimes using very raw and honest images. Sure, people only know you in so many terms online, but since the power to decide what those terms are is under your thumbs, it’s a good way of being defined.
Basically, every Social Media outlet has a little safe niche and since more are sprouting up, it’s safe to say that these groups are becoming diverse enough, that a variety of people can find a variety of digital spaces they can call home. Considering there is numerous data out there to prove that socialization, connecting with like-individuals is very helpful for those recovering from any long-term illness, this is another awesome trend, I would love to see blossom long term.

4. Video Games are finally catching up

This one makes me most excited because it’s means a broader audience can be exposed to mental health concerns and start discussions. This year two games stood out (one was recognized with award) for depicting mental illness well and teaching players how to respond properly to those suffering.

Stardew Valley is a farm simulator rather straightforward gameplay: grow crops and animals and be nice to all. But, it has a major plot point with a depressive and substance abuse suffering character. Take This, a video game charity working to help raise awareness and reduce stigma about mental illness, awarded the game their inaugural Dr. Mark Award.

Another game that received high accolades was Hellblade: Sinara’s Sacrifice. While this game never diagnoses its character, attentive psychologists have recognized symptoms from the DSM-V of possible psychosis and hallucinations. The game creators are to thank for their detailed attention to the depiction. They even went as far as dedicating a huge space in the game’s advertisement site to mental illness resources.
Hopefully, in 2018, we'll see more creators, working to make video games with diverse and accurate representations that educate the public.

Overall, I am hopeful that in 2018 the conversations, concerns, and solutions will continue and mental health will remain a prominent social topic.

For the new year, I do have one request for everyone who reads my silly notes. Don’t wait to get help and live your best, most fulfilling life until the next January 1st. Please know you deserve to feel your best. Whether you need to see a doctor, a therapist, take medication or even start alternative therapy, the best time will always be now. Because once you start and you find the thing that works, the only question you’ll be asking is “Why did I wait so long?”

Sources Used for Summary Stream and Topics Herein:

In no particular order