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Mullen-Johnson: Why Mental Health Awareness Month Matters 

By Crystal Mullen-Johnson

Each year, during May — Mental Health Awareness Month — millions organize campaigns to raise awareness to reduce stigma surrounding mental health.

Miseducation, inaccessibility to treatment and stereotypical views about mental health are significant barriers for providers and those in need of treatment. Unfortunately, over 60 percent of youth with major depression don’t have access to care or treatment.

The African American community is disproportionately affected by mental illness, in fact African American’s are 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety. If you feel persistent sadness, feel overwhelmed, or have thoughts of suicide, it’s okay to acknowledge that you are not okay.

Since 2017 the suicide rate among 10-13-year-old Black children has tripled and Black females in grade 9-12 were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide in 2019 compared to non-Hispanic females the same age. Pay attention to your child(s) mental health and be aware of your mental health status.
Don’t hesitate to seek help from a licensed mental health provider or health care professional. Suffering in silence can be consequential and lead to devastating results such as suicide.

I am deeply saddened about the death of Arlana Miller, a freshman at Southern University. She battled with suicidal thoughts during her early teenage years, and she followed through with committing suicide after sharing a note on Instagram. Suicide should not be an option to find peace, support is available if you speak out about your problems. Shift your mindset from not talking is displays weakness to talking is displays strength.

Mental health services are in high demand due to tragedies experienced in our country. Millions have died from COVID-19 leaving their loved ones in a state of grief. Parents are burned out and children’s lives have been disrupted with constant changes.

Let’s face it, we will never be the same. Changes in our country tend to trigger mental health problems in adults and youths. Our youth are struggling significantly from mental health issues. In 2021, a national mental health crisis state was declared. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 1 and 5 American suffer with a mental health condition in America, and I ask that you assess your mental well-being and commit to being a healthier you.

Stive Counseling Service and the associated nonprofit organization, Nurture of Alabama are committed to providing mental health support to the community and mental health education to help others to thrive for a heathier you within the Birmingham community. I encourage you to join Nurture of Alabama in partnership with the City of Birmingham for a free Community Mental Health Day on Friday, May 13, 2022 at Linn Park.

There will be a Mental Health & Wellness Resource Fair, food trucks and a DJ. Our speakers include: Mayor Randall Woodfin; District Attorney Danny Carr; Sheriff Mark Pettway; Reggie Parker, a Birmingham-based licensed professional counselor; Dr. Leesh-Ellis Cox, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist in Birmingham, and Bishop Van Moody, pastor, The Worship Center Christian Church.

Our goal is to address the stigma of mental health support, link the community to accessible and affordable mental health services and provide community education on mental health and wellness. You Matter


Crystal Mullen-Johnson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Play Therapist in Birmingham, AL with more than 16 years of experience in providing counseling. She is the owner and founder of Strive Counseling Services a private practice located in downtown Birmingham that offers therapeutic mental health services to children (play therapy), adolescents, and adults. Strive offers evidence-based therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Contact us at (205) 721-9893 to inquire about Telehealth Services or visit www.strivebhm.com

She is a published author of the “21 Day Journey to Strive for a Healthier You” which can be purchased on Amazon and also Founder/President of Nurture, LLC, a non-profit organization in Birmingham, AL. Learn more about nurture by visiting www.nurturebham.com.