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Joint NASW, CSWE Statement on Mental Health Awareness Month in May

WASHINGTON, D.C. - May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and National Association of Social Workers (NASW) are joining communities and organizations across the country to raise awareness about the millions of American families affected with a mental illness. Both organizations are deeply committed to continuing efforts to fight for parity, improve the quality of life, and access to care and services for those impacted by mental illness. 

Currently, approximately one in five adults is experiencing a mental health condition. The burden of mental illness in the U.S. continues to grow and the stigma associated with mental illness presents barriers to care and services. Mental illness not only impacts the individual, it is a public health issue that also affects families and communities. Despite the movement toward mental health parity, many gaps still exist for those suffering with mental Illness. 

With mental and behavioral health demands growing, it is imperative that we continue investments in building a sustainable mental health infrastructure and strive for true parity in mental health. CSWE and NASW will continue to make this an integral part of their efforts.  

As one of the largest providers of mental health and substance use services in the United States, social workers are often on the front lines providing critical services and linking individuals to proper treatment and care across our nation's communities. Social workers are in a unique position to touch the lives of Americans along the full continuum of care, from prevention and access to treatment and care. They also have the ability to reach multiple, vulnerable populations by providing services in a variety of settings, including community settings, schools, clinics, hospitals, welfare agencies, and government agencies. 

Both CSWE and NASW partner with national efforts to promote access to mental health treatment, mental health parity, and destigmatizing campaigns. Examples include:  

•NASW is a proud partner in the Change Direction to raise national awareness about mental health and supports the Change Direction Give an Hour Campaign, which encourages social workers and other mental health services providers to give free mental health services to veterans and their families. 

•NASW is a major sponsor of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Voice Awards, which honor individuals, TV shows and films that help raise awareness about mental health and substance use disorders

•CSWE participates in SAMHSA's National Dialogue on Mental Health.

•CSWE and NASW are members of the Mental Health Liaison Group. 

Both CSWE and NASW are committed to spreading awareness of the importance behind understanding mental health needs and encourage members to join the movement. CSWE and NASW members can participate by contacting their Senators and House Representatives and requesting continuous support for mental health as at top policy priority. Members can also take advantage of special events hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for Mental Health Awareness Month.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.