When we are first diagnosed with cancer – whether it’s liver cancer, prostate cancer, or breast cancer – a healthcare provider may recommend that we get in touch with the American Cancer Society. If we have arthritis, our rheumatologist may suggest we connect with the Arthritis Foundation. These groups don’t perform medical tests on us, and most don’t have a 24-hour crisis line, but they do provide support, advocacy, education, and valuable resources for the patient and family members. They may even recommend another organization that is better fit for your condition, such as the Kidney Cancer Association, Susan G. Komen, National Fibromyalgia Association, or Lupus Foundation.
Similarly, Mental Health America provides mental health education, training, advocacy, programs, and resources for individuals and families. MHA was founded in 1909, and today there are over 200 MHA affiliates. MHA of the MidSouth has offices in Nashville and Memphis, and it’s one of the largest MHA affiliates in the South.
People call our help line every weekday at (615) 269-5355 because they suspect, have, or need a mental health diagnosis. While MHA does not provide medical treatment or therapy, we help people find affordable therapists, doctors, support groups, crisis lines, medication discounts, screenings, and more. MHA knows that knowledge is power, and our staff can empower you with information and arm you with the right questions to ask your provider.
What is a mental illness? Maybe it’s anxiety or depression from a divorce or from job stress. Perhaps it’s a severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) like schizophrenia. It could be something temporary like postpartum depression or seasonal affective disorder; or it could possibly be fatal like anorexia, Alzheimer’s disease, or persistent suicidal thoughts. MHA also helps family members who endure the anxiety and depression associated with caregiver stress.
There are a few things that MHA wants everyone to know:
- You are not alone! One in five people have a diagnosable mental illness each year.
- The biggest barrier in getting help is the shame or stigma associated with mental health. No one is to blame if you have cancer or diabetes, and having a mental illness does not make you defective or “crazy.” Frankly, there is no health without mental health.
- Half of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14, but it usually takes 10 years to get a diagnosis and to begin treatment. Don’t let the stigma rob you of the life you deserve!
- Mental illnesses are real and treatable. Mental illnesses are not a result of weak character, bad parenting, low resiliency, or sin in your life. Depression, anxiety, bipolar, addictions, and the mental and emotional impact of trauma are real and treatable.
MHA is a charitable nonprofit that uses local donations to help local Tennesseans. Donations promote mental health screenings, underwrite the help line, provide advocacy for integrated treatments and recovery, provide workshops to improve the working knowledge of healthcare professionals, afford free community education at churches and schools, underwrite our support groups, and more.
Mental Health America of the MidSouth is proud to have served Tennesseans for over seven decades. Together we will overcome the stigma, improve access to affordable care, improve the emotional health and wellness of Tennesseans, and spread the message that there is no health without mental health.