Ending the Silence on Mental Health- TOp Five Takeaways


By Renee Labat, Youth Program Coordinator at NAMI-MN

May was Mental Health Awareness Month. To finish off this important month, the Ann Bancroft Foundation hosted NAMI Minnesota to teach their Ending the Silence class. Check out the top five takeaways from this session.

1: Stay vigilant for signs of mental illness

Some common warning signs can be feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks, severe out-of-control risk-taking behavior, overwhelming fear or anxiety that gets in the way of daily activities, difficulty focusing or staying still, and major changes in mood, behavior, personality, or eating or sleeping habits.

2: Think about warning signs for suicide

Suicide warning signs can include writing, drawing, or talking about death, talking about being a burden to others or not being here tomorrow, looking for ways to attempt suicide, feeling hopeless, giving away prized possessions, and reckless behavior. If you are worried a friend is feeling suicidal, ask them directly “Are you thinking about suicide?” If they say yes, seek help. This could mean bringing them to an adult, calling 988 (the Suicide Prevention Lifeline) or calling 911. The most important thing to remember is that we never keep suicide warning signs a secret.

3: Understand the role of stigma

Stigma is a social disgrace that comes from being put in a certain category or being given a certain label. It comes from stereotyping, discrimination, and a lack of understanding around mental illness. This causes people with mental illnesses to often feel embarrassed and try to hide their mental illnesses. However, mental illnesses are medical illnesses, and nothing to be ashamed of!

4: There are ways you can address mental illness

It is so important if you are living with a mental illness to seek help. This could start by talking to a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher, or counselor. You can also talk to a friend or go to a doctor. If you feel like you do not have someone you can go to, you can call 988 to talk anonymously or text the Crisis Textline: text MN to 741-741. If you think a friend is living with a mental illness, you can help them find an adult, share 988 and the Crisis Textline, encourage them in their recovery, and overall just be a good friend!

5: Speaking up can make a difference

Mental illnesses are common and treatable and nothing to be ashamed of. There are so many people that care and will listen, we just have to speak up. By learning more about mental illnesses and supporting each other in our mental health, we can end the silence behind mental illness.


Want to know more? Check out these mental health resources.

1.     NAMI-MN website: https://namimn.org

2.     Asian Mental Health Collective: https://www.asianmhc.org

3.     Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM): https://beam.community 

4.     A is for Anxious podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/0YNCdjhhnEGhLeVASWrW5v 

5.     You Are Not Your Thoughts from AboutKidsHealth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QXmmP4psbA

6.     Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help


About the author: Renee Labat is the youth program coordinator at NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness). She graduated from Luther College with a degree in elementary education and a minor in Spanish. She then went on to volunteer for a year in Argentina. When she returned to the US, she worked a variety of jobs such as being a PCA, a tutor, a substitute teacher, and a youth counselor at a residential treatment center for youth with mental illnesses. Working at the residential treatment center is what drew Renee to work in mental health. She has now been working at NAMI Minnesota for four years and loves getting to spread the message that mental illnesses are nothing to be ashamed of and not to be afraid to ask for help!