In middle school, Juan Acosta was teased about his sexuality, something he didn’t fully understand yet. As a consequence, he struggled with his mental health and at one point even contemplated suicide. In an interview for our My Mental Health Journey series, Juan says, “I felt like such a big part of my being was intruded by assumptions that although were not wrong, made me feel ashamed for being who I was.”
Only one-third of Californians who live with a mental illness receive the care they need. Our healthcare system often intervenes only when mental illness becomes serious or, in some cases, does not intervene at all. During Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re highlighting the need in our mental health system to prioritize reaching people early, talking about mental health and equipping them with the tools needed to maintain it. An essential step for people is understanding what mental health is and the differences between mental health, mental illness, and substance use disorders.