If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the suicide prevention hotline at 988, or visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah at namiut.org.

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Both mental health experts and advocates are speaking out on why it’s a good opportunity to talk to loved ones who may be struggling with their mental health.

Dealing with mental health is something no one should have to go through alone.

Experts and advocates say that mental health awareness is important. Raising awareness about the issues we face such as anxiety and depression helps people to know it’s okay to talk about it and to get help when they need it.

Founder of Good Deed Revolution and Promise2Live Brandy Vega said mental health is kept in the darkness, it doesn’t get the attention it needs and people feel like they are alone in their feelings.

Vega said mental health awareness is very dear to her as she almost lost a child to suicide. After being given a second chance with her own child, she now focuses on helping others.

“There’s help out there and when people feel like it’s okay to acknowledge it, address it, bring it to the light and get help, then we can start to find some of these solutions and also talk about it,” said Vega.

Vega’s organizations work to provide resources to those who may need them. Good Deed Revolution focuses on promoting good deeds, sharing inspirational stories of charity, good works in communities and helping people connect with others who can help or who need help. It provides mental health resources for those who need them in Utah and helps start the conversation surrounding the feelings we face.

Promise2Live gives people a certified opportunity to make a “simple but powerful” statement that if they are ever feeling sad, depressed, hopeless, or suicidal, they will reach out to friends, family, or other resources for help.

“Studies show us if we make a promise ahead of time, we’re 60-80% more likely to keep it when it really matters,” said Vega. “So, we think the very simple – yet very significant – act of making a promise that we’ll reach out if we are struggling can save lives.”

Assistant Professor with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute Kristin Francis said mental health disorders are serious conditions. People should know it’s okay to ask for help in the same way they would with a broken arm or a physical condition.

“Shame is what we are really trying to get away from because shame stops people from getting help,” said Francis. “These are treatable conditions. It’s not something you have to have for the rest of your life.”

Francis said there are signs that someone may be dealing with mental health struggles. If they start to act differently or recklessly, become irritable or withdrawn. She says it’s important to open the door to mental health conversations, especially for parents to be transparent and vulnerable and let their children know they can talk about it ahead of time.

“In general, our young people visited the ER more in the past year than in the years previous. The suicide rate has increased and rates of suicide and depression increased,” said Francis

Brandy Vega said this month, and anytime in the year, reach out to those around you and let them know you are there for them.

“There are easy things you can do like just say ‘Hey, how are you doing,’ ‘How is your mental health,’ ‘How are you holding up,’ ‘Are you feeling safe,'” Vega said. “Just listening and asking those questions will give you a lot of insight.”

If you need to reach out to someone, experts and advocates alike said to make an appointment or use resources like the 988 hotline or the SafeUT app.