May is Mental Health Month

Friday, May 01, 2009 | 09:47am

NASHVILLE – In recognition of Mental Health Month, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities is encouraging Tennesseans to increase their awareness of mental health and mental illness by understanding the fundamental nature of mental health to overall health as well as the destructive nature of stigma in our society.

Mental health is the successful performance of mental functions resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with others, and the ability to adapt to change and to successfully cope with adversity.  Mental health is essential to overall health and indispensable to lifelong personal well being.

“Mental disorders are highly prevalent in our society and seriously effect families and communities,” said TDMHDD Commissioner Virginia Trotter Betts. “Mental illnesses are real illnesses for which there are treatments and solutions. Mental Illnesses are just as diagnosable and just as successfully treatable as other physical illnesses.”

On the other hand, mental illness as a health condition that is characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior, is mediated by the brain, and is associated with impaired functioning/ways of talking, feeling, and acting.” Yet, many individuals living with a mental disorder do not seek care because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Stigma is the single greatest barrier to people getting the treatment they need.

“The greatest weapon against stigma is knowledge and interpersonal acceptance of mental illnesses as real and mental health treatment as effective,” said Betts. “We hope with the many activities and information available this month, people will learn more about mental health and mental illness. We must enhance community understanding and empower those who are especially vulnerable in these stressful times to seek help.”

Kicking off Mental Health Month on Monday, May 4, will be the Art for Awareness reception at Legislative Plaza in Nashville that honors consumer artists from throughout the state. During the event, Governor Bredesen, TDMHDD Commissioner Betts, and several members of the 106th General Assembly will be presented a unique piece of art created by mental health consumers to display in their offices throughout the month of May.

For a complete listing of Mental Health Month activities please visit or call TDMHDD’s Office of Communications at (615) 253-4812.


Press Releases | Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services