Dean’s Message

May 26, 2023

Mental Health Awareness

May is recognized around the country as national Mental Health Awareness Month and has been observed in the United States since 1949.

Mental health is a person’s general sense of emotional, psychological, social and cognitive well-being. Our mental health influences how we experience, think about and interact in our world. Our mental health can change over time and is impacted by life stressors and other factors.

In the United States, more than 20% of adults live with a mental illness each year, such as stress, anxiety and mild depression, and less than half receive treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. More than 20% of youths ages 13 to 18 currently or at some point in their lives have had a seriously debilitating mental illness. And approximately 1 in 25 adults lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression.

There are a number of factors that can put your mental health at risk – adverse childhood experiences such as trauma or abuse, chronic medical conditions, biological factors, substance use and abuse, and feeling alone or isolated. The COVID-19 pandemic has likely further compounded the impact on people’s mental health.

Trying to manage what might be unmanageable by ourselves can put people at greater risk. Some mental health issues may not resolve without professional care, and they might get worse. But like physical illness, mental illness can be diagnosed and effectively managed.

To that end, University Medical Center provides a broad range of mental health care services from psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers who practice at UMC’s Betty Shirley Clinic. The clinic is named in honor of a beloved Tuscaloosa mental health care advocate and UMC supporter and partner who passed away in April of this year. To reach the Betty Shirley Clinic, call (205) 348-1265.

At University Medical Center, your mental health matters – not just during the month of May but each and every day. We want to help improve the lives of people suffering with mental health concerns.

Having good mental health along with good physical health are equally important to having your best overall health.

The College of Community Health Sciences operates University Medical Center, the UA Student Health Center and Pharmacy, Brewer-Porch Children’s Center and Capstone Hospitalist Group.