Did you know that 1 in 20 US Adults experiences a serious mental illness each year? One in 20, means that chances are, you are rubbing elbows regularly with someone who suffers.  One in 5 U.S adults experience mental health issues annually. Unfortunately, many suffer in silence, crippled with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, grief, and trauma, afraid to ask for help due to the stigmas that perpetuate modern culture. Each year the National Alliance on Mental Illness sponsors National Mental Illness Awareness week. This year's campaign theme, "Together We Care, Together We Share," encourages the power of community in the healing process. 

Tribal cultures have always known the power of healing in community. Communal practices are woven into the fabric of tribal life, no one shoulders the burden of illness or tragedy alone. Yet, in modern culture, we shoulder our independence like a badge of honor and hide our pain and trauma in the shadows, afraid to reveal ourselves for fear it may indicate weakness. 

The real weakness is our society's inability to discuss our challenges with others, thwarting the opportunity to integrate community into the therapeutic process. We put on our armor to face the world, all neat and tidy in package, while we cry and struggle in the shadows.

Our spiritual communities once compensated for this disconnect, and certainly there are spiritual communities still meet this need, but the vast majority of us silently suffer without the off valve that healing in community provides.

I have personally witnessed and experienced the visceral powers of healing in community while participating in 5Rhythms workshops. In this transformational practice, you are offered the opportunity to dance with your shadows in a safe ritualistic way that allows you to explore different ways of interacting with the energy. It's powerful stuff and requires an article of its own. If your interest is piqued, I encourage you to check out their website for more information. www.5rhythms.com

Only 47% of those with mental illness received treatment and only 65.4% with a serious condition received treatment. In fact, and estimated 164M people live in an area that has been designated as a mental health professional shortage area. This means community is more important than ever, it takes a village.  In my humble opinion, it all starts with talking openly and honestly about mental health. Together we can start a conversation. Together we can share the weight of what burdens us. It all starts with a conversation.

This year, Oct 10 is World Mental Health Day, Oct 3 is designated National Day of Prayer for Mental illness Recovery and Understanding and Oct 5 is National Depression Screening Day.  To help spread the word about mental illness, be sure to visit the National Alliance on Mental illness website to grab your resource kit.  
If you or someone you love suffers with mental illness, NAMI has support peer-led support groups that offer participants an opportunity to share their experiences and gain support from others. 

Let's normalize talking about mental health and asking for help when we feel overwhelmed. 
Together, we can make a difference.


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