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MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH MONTH: A CALL TO NURSING AWARENESS AND ACTION By Carson Easley, MS, RN, Director of Nursing, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, Chair, TNA Mental Health Workgroup

RECOGNIZED IN THE UNITED STATES SINCE 1949, Mental Health Month (May) was initiated by Mental Health America (MHA) and is promoted by MHA and its affiliate associations across the country. MHA remains a recognized resource for mental health awareness education, programs, and tools geared toward community education. At the time of the initiation of Mental Health Month, psychiatric/mental health (PMH) nursing practice was considered

a specialty whereby nurses received training post licensure. In the mid-1950s, PMH concepts became a requirement for all nursing education programs. However, nursing education has not been consistent in the availability of either clinical learning opportunities or experienced PMH faculty. For the purpose of this article, the impact of unrecognized/untreated depression will be explored. Depression is often comorbid with chronic disease states,

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meaning that patients experiencing mental illness also have medical diagnoses such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc. Those experiencing mental illness in conjunction with another diagnosis die at an earlier rate than the general population with these diagnoses, and this is especially true for those diagnosed with schizophrenia. Many times patients do not recognize that the feelings of sadness, loss, and/ or hopelessness may be stemming from

Profile for Texas Nurses Association

Texas Nursing Magazine - Spring 2017