May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By David Bucciferro, Senior Advisor, Foothold Technology

Since 1949, every May we observe Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s a national effort to raise awareness about one of the most common illnesses faced by individuals today. Many providers in the Foothold community are on the front lines every day from New York to California and Guam to Puerto Rico. We thank these organizations for their work, not just in the month of May, but throughout the year. Many organizations like NAMI and Mental Health America are raising efforts through social media and other media campaigns. Check out the #4Mind4Body campaign for an example of social media resources you can share.   

These efforts are important, and I would also like to offer a different observation for mental health awareness month this year. I propose we make this the decade of Mental Health. One in five Americans experience a mental illness and one in 25 individuals live with a serious mental illness. In 2008, it was estimated that nearly $200 billion in lost earnings was due to mental illness. SAMSHA estimates that 60% of persons with a mental illness did not receive treatment and that 90% of those who die from suicide have an underlying mental illness. Looking at these facts, and other statistics about emergency room utilization rates, criminal justice involvement, and co-occurring and comorbid disorders, I propose it’s time to take greater action.

Time For Greater Action

Let’s have a decade of not only awareness but of eradication of these consequences. Let’s use the decade to ensure everyone has access to the best mental health care possible, that research dollars pour into the development of new best practices and treatments, including early warning and prevention efforts. Mental health awareness is about removing any lingering stigma that still exists for persons with mental illness. We do not look at a cancer patient and think they are less of a person because of their illness and we should not look at a person with mental illness as being any different. I’m not saying the efforts of the past 69 years of awareness are to be undervalued, but they are not enough. We can do more. We need to have a national and international effort to make mental illness a true blip in ones life and not the defining characteristic of whom they are as an individual.

Additional Resources

For further reading and more information about the numbers and statistics associated with mental illness, I recommend these sources:

About Foothold Technology
Foothold Technology, an electronic record, EHR vendor and human services software provider, offers web-based software for human service providers that eases the burden of documentation, providing agencies with the freedom to focus on their Mission. More than 1,000 agencies nationwide count on Foothold’s AWARDS software to manage their services, including Mental Health, Alcohol & Substance Use Disorder, Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, Homeless & Housing, Employment & Training, Seniors, Veterans, Youth & Family, and more. Having originated from three agencies in 2000, AWARDS is a complete electronic record and EHR software for human service providers that also supports administrative activities, including facilities maintenance, human resources, scheduling and alerts, audit reports, and automated billing. AWARDS offers full interoperability with any other federally certified system for participation in Health Information Exchanges (HIE) and Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs). It is also the only record-keeping system that is certified as both a Behavioral Health EHR software system and an HMIS software package (Homeless Management Information System). With roots and origins in human services, no software vendor is better prepared to support you than Foothold Technology. For more information, visit