Al-Anon Family Groups Acknowledge “May is Mental Health Month 2015”

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About 50% of people will develop at least one mental health condition during their lifetime, according to Mental Health America, organizer of May is Mental Health Month. An estimated 36% of Americans are affected by someone else’s problem drinking, suffering from a range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, but can find help and support for these mental health issues at Al-Anon Family Groups.

Strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers

Al-Anon Family Groups

Today, I spent half a day crying. On most days for the past few months, I managed to cry only a short while. Somehow, the enormity of living with addicted family members hit me by force today.

In a recent Membership Survey conducted by Al-Anon Family Groups, 32% of respondents reported they have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. “Today, I spent half a day crying,” said Lizzy, an anonymous commenter on a “First Steps to Al-Anon Recovery” podcast. “On most days for the past few months, I managed to cry only a short while. Somehow, the enormity of living with addicted family members hit me by force today,” she said.

In Al-Anon’s Membership Survey, 84% of respondents assessed the condition of their mental health to be significantly below average (55%) or slightly below average (29%), before attending Al-Anon meetings. The most commonly reported mental health conditions were depression, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress. The likelihood of respondents experiencing positive emotions, such as feeling content, calm, and receptive, before finding help in Al-Anon due to the effects of someone else’s drinking, was also very low. Instead, most reported high levels of experience with negative emotions, such as feeling resentful, ashamed, and angry.

After attending Al-Anon meetings, however, members of Al-Anon Family Groups reported a dramatically improved rating of the overall condition of their mental health, from 1.7 to 4.2 out of 5, when compared to before attending Al-Anon. Al-Anon is a support group for anyone who is affected by a friend or family member’s drinking,

“I’m starting to realize with the help of Al-Anon that my happiness cannot depend on anybody else and I need to be responsible for myself and my children’s happiness,” another anonymous commenter on an Al-Anon podcast said. Recollections of positive emotions also greatly outweighed those of negative emotions, after finding help in Al-Anon, according to the Membership Survey.

Al-Anon Family Groups are for families and friends who have been affected by a loved one’s drinking. Nearly 16,000 local groups meet throughout the U.S., Canada, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico every week. Al-Anon Family Groups meet in more than 130 countries, and Al-Anon literature is available in more than 40 languages. Al-Anon Family Groups have been offering strength and support to families and friends of problem drinkers since 1951. Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. acts as the clearinghouse worldwide for inquiries from those who need help or want information about Al-Anon Family Groups and Alateen, its program for teenage members.

For more information about Al-Anon Family Groups, go to al-anon.org and read a copy of Al-Anon’s annual public outreach magazine “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism 2015.” Find a local meeting by calling toll-free: 1-888-4AL-ANON.

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Pamela Walters
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