May 8, 2019 | PRA Culture, PRA Work | Amelia Allen Mental health awareness matters because we are all affected by it. It is at the center of so many issues affecting our country. Along with issues of poverty and trauma, mental health is woven right into the fabric of our society. Through mental health awareness campaigns and by being an advocate, a voice, for people who have a mental illness, we allow for positive change. I believe that most people are good and intend to do good things, but due to the differing experiences from our lives, we come to different conclusions about how to achieve the things that we all strive to have: healthy social relationships, a home, a purpose-filled job, and general happiness. It’s in these differing opinions on how to achieve our constitutional rights of life, liberty, and that hard-to-achieve pursuit of happiness we create divides among ourselves. By creating divides, we create barriers, struggles, and traumas amongst ourselves, which create broader ripple effects in our family life, the criminal justice system, education, our economy, and so many other areas. The many barriers to receiving effective mental health care can cause significant problems in employment, housing, interpersonal relationships, and may even lead to criminal justice involvement. The need for mental health awareness is great; and the need for effective, responsive, and widely available treatment is even greater. Mental health awareness is a piece of the puzzle we have long known about and have yet to place in a way that serves the people who need it most. We are getting closer, but we’re still searching. It’s progress, but the awareness is still critical as so many still don’t believe that substance use disorders are being a brain disorder, or that mental health is as critical as physical health. Leaving a person’s mental health needs untreated can lead to medical and social problems. This all folds in on itself. We need to unfold it by making more people aware of the crux of the issue.