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Mental Health Awareness Month Arrives Amid a Decline in Post-Pandemic Mental Health

UH Mental Health Expert Available in May to Discuss Bolstering Psychological Fortitude

By Laurie Fickman 713-743-8454

As Mental Health Awareness Month dawns in May, it’s a good time to review the state of mental health of our society. Since its inception in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has been a cornerstone of addressing the challenges faced by millions of Americans living with mental health conditions. 

“The overall mental health of our society seems to be declining, and it’s alarming,” said Rheeda Walker, University of Houston psychology professor and expert on mental health and suicide prevention. “Our nation is grappling with psychological impacts of collective post-pandemic trauma, political upheaval and daily turmoil, and the time to bolster psychological fortitude is now.”

In 2023, adults ages 18 to 34 reported the highest rate of mental illnesses at 50%.

According to the results of Stress in America™ 2023, a nationwide survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association, adults ages 35 to 44 experienced the highest increase in mental health diagnoses—45% reported a mental illness in 2023 compared with 31% in 2019—though adults ages 18 to 34 still reported the highest rate of mental illnesses at 50% in 2023.  

In Texas, where Walker is located, 1 in 3 residents experience symptoms of depression or anxiety and only a fraction of those get help.  

The rising number of suicides in the Black community led Walker to research that reveals people of color have even further risk because of discrimination they endure.   

“We must work harder to reduce the stigma associated with mental health,” said Walker. There continues to be too much resistance to understanding and addressing mental health in our broader society.” 

As society grapples with that, the best thing an individual can do is boost their own resilience or what Walker calls “psychological fortitude.”

Rheeda Walker, University of Houston psychology professor and expert on mental health and suicide prevention, dispels misconceptions about mental health and offers actionable advice for navigating daily challenges.

Walker can share suggestions that might help interested individuals build greater psychological fortitude. It begins with being aware of your own mental state.  

“It is important to be mindful of our mental capacity and then make the necessary adjustments to move forward as a fully functioning people. It’s good to recognize you’re at the point of burnout. But the flex, is to stop getting to that point!” said Dr. Walker. 

About Rheeda Walker 

Rheeda Walker has published more than 60 scientific papers on African American mental health, suicide risk, and emotional resilience. She’s the author of the bestseller The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health and the Unapologetic Workbook and the upcoming No Racial Elephants in the Therapy Room: An Unapologetic Approach to Providing Culturally Affirming Mental Health Care to Black and African American Clients.   

Walker debunks myths about mental health and delivers practical advice for use in everyday life. Her work has led to appearances on Good Morning America, The Breakfast Club, and NPR to name a few. Her expertise has been cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among others.   

If you are in crisis, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Lifeline provides confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Support is also available via live chat.    

To book an interview with Walker, please contact Laurie Fickman at 

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