May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a time to reflect on the challenges that affect an estimated 45.9 million American adults. The following statistics come from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings.

Twenty percent of the U.S. adult population lives with some form of mental illness and many of those affected do not receive adequate treatment.

Over 11 million adults a year report unmet mental health needs. 5.2 million of these individuals do not receive any mental health services. Utilization of services is particularly low among Asians, Hispanics and African Americans.

Many of the primary reasons for unmet mental health needs, however, are problems that we can identify right now: lack of education, stigma and hopelessness.

Over 20 percent of those who did not receive treatment did not know where to find services. Almost a third, 32.2 percent, thought they could handle the problem without treatment, and 10 percent did not want others to find out about their mental health needs.

Although not all mental health solutions are easy, we can each take small steps to break down the blocks that prevent wellness and work to raise awareness.

At the Hogg Foundation, we know that recovery is possible because we’ve witnessed it, shared it and, for many of us, lived it.

This month, we hosted a two-day statewide conference aimed at tackling the mental health needs of the African American community, a greatly underserved demographic. “Spiritual Crossroads: Faith, Mental Health and the African American Community” brought together consumers, the faith-based community and mental health advocates to encourage better services and solutions. Read more about the conference here.

We have also been working to alleviate mental health workforce shortages through grants, scholarships and training sessions.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, we ask that you join us in raising mental health awareness. Together, we can continue to advance wellness and promote recovery.