Mental Health Awareness Month: Acknowledging Personal Struggle During Global Crisis

The month of May, designated Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949, gives us the opportunity to remember that well-being means mental as well as physical health. Most of us are feeling a bit more stressed and anxious than usual: what about those whose struggles are chronic or even life-long? Perhaps now is a good time to try to understand and empathize with the challenges faced by those suffering from long-stigmatized mental illnesses.

Our e-collections can support this quest! Two specially-curated collections in hoopla offer audio-visual perspective on some specific mental health issues, from bipolar disorder to eating disorders to manic depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder to schizophrenia and even postpartum depression. 2020 APL Mental Health Awareness Month: Audio offers a sample reading list from medical professionals, biographers, memoirists, and historians.

For a compelling autobiography written by a medical expert who, in the throes of fighting brain cancer, experienced symptoms similar to those suffered by dementia and schizophrenia patients, you might try the well-regarded book The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind by Barbara K. Lipska. Talk about learning empathy from the inside out!

The companion film collection in hoopla (2020 APL Mental Health Awareness Month: Film) features a number of documentary approaches to mental illness. By observing and acknowledging others’ struggles with mental health, we can individually and collectively remove the age-old stigma and fear of “madness” and strive to make the world a kinder place for sufferers.

Some of the bravest and most affecting writing about mental illness comes from those who have been there themselves. Amazingly, some of these writers have been able to wring humor and hope from otherwise harrowing experiences. For searingly honest but strangely uplifting–and yes, even funny–listens, try Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things and the newly-released The Hilarious World of Depression by radio announcer and podcaster John Moe. Both audio titles are available in Overdrive/Libby.

And remember that your awareness and concern support those who might otherwise be suffering almost invisibly during these difficult times.

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