May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which was founded with the intention of bringing more awareness to mental health conditions and their effects on those who suffer from them.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 4 American adults is diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and 1 in 17 Americans has a serious mental illness. Mental health awareness is very important in the legal community, as many people with mental illnesses need assistance from lawyers to help them navigate an already complex legal system. Someone may need representation in court, or legal advice for claiming benefits they may be entitled to. Many veterans, for example, suffer from afflictions like Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and need the help and understanding of a legal professional to help them smoothly transition back to civilian life.
Equal Justice Works has several Fellows focused on mental health issues, who are working on projects that affect change in the prison system, schools and on behalf of Veterans. These Fellows work to make sure clients with mental health illnesses receive the legal representation and support they need by working with a network of insurance companies, health care providers and the government. The services our Fellows provide can help create a better life for people suffering from mental health illnesses and help eliminate the stigma associated with it. Spend some time this month learning more about mental health. Education and awareness are the first steps toward a more just future.