In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share a few personal perspectives. My professional journeys have taken me through the military and veteran communities, business and finance industries and academia. In them all, I have seen an appreciable rise in the prevalence of mental health conditions in our colleagues, employees and students. But, I have also seen encouraging signs, with greater acceptance and acknowledgement by our organizations and institutions and more education and resources for our affected populations. We are getting better at honoring the courage of those who live with mental health conditions and celebrating the health professionals and loved ones who support them. There is more work to do, for sure, but these are nonetheless encouraging signs.

For example, among my students, I can sense the changes – and it is borne out in the data.  According to the 2023 Healthy Minds Study, 46% of college students have lifetime diagnoses of mental disorders, 41% have depression, 36% have anxiety disorder, 14% have had suicidal ideations in the past year and 29% have had self-injury within the past year. Over a third of all students received mental health therapy and 29% have taken psychiatric medication within the past year. According to the 2023 National College Health Assessment, 21.2% of students reported serious psychological distress and 28.3% have positive suicidal screenings. 70% of university presidents indicate that student mental health remains a pressing issue on their campus. But, these trends are slightly improved from the prior year’s data, and my subjective experience with my students suggests that we are making progress. Students are more willing to openly discuss their mental health conditions than in the past. My graduate and undergraduate courses have integrated teaching modules that focus on mental health and well-being for our students and share on-campus mental health resources. And, there is greater understanding and support expected of all faculty and staff.

Beyond our campus, psychological well-being is becoming a higher priority for all workers and environments. The inaugural Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being from October 2022 found that 92% of workers said that it is important to them to work for an organization that values their emotional and psychological well-being and that provides support for employee mental health. 77% of workers reported being satisfied with the support for mental health and well-being they receive from their employers, and 59% agreed that their employer regularly provides information about available mental health resources. Of course, further improvements are needed, as 43% reported worrying that reporting a mental health condition would have a negative impact on them in the workplace.  During my two decades in private industry – working in health care consulting, running advisory firms and managing a fund – I experienced the changes firsthand. We began to understand and to focus better on our employee needs, and more supportive mental health and well-being policies and programs have become essential for effectively recruiting and retaining talent.

It has been a long time since my Army days, but, in my current job, I work with a talented and dedicated team of mental health professionals and leaders at the Veterans Health Administration serving our nation’s Veterans. Here, too, I see the tremendous need and the excellent progress we are making. I asked Dr. Tamara Campbell from our Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention to share a brief summary about our work in helping Veterans with mental health issues and providing some links to additional information and resources for those interested in helping with mental health services for our nation’s Veterans, which I share below: 
  • The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides mental health services to Veterans across a continuum of mental health care ranging from acute inpatient mental health care to general outpatient mental health care and preventive self-guided care. VHA uses a team-based, integrated, whole-health approach to address mental and physical health needs; engages Veterans who may not otherwise seek mental health care; provides consultation, treatment, and crisis intervention; and leads the way in innovative approaches to mental health by providing complex interventions for mental health conditions that are difficult to treat. VHA care providers empower Veterans by engaging them in preventive care and collaborative treatment planning and by using what matters most in Veterans’ lives to guide health discussions.
  • The VHA Office of Mental Health uses Mental Health Month in May as an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health challenges, treatment and recovery. This year’s “Today I Am” campaign is about Veterans sharing their inspiring mental health stories and highlighting what they’ve gained through treatment. Visit the campaign’s Spread the Word page to download content, graphics, posters and more that you can use to raise awareness about Mental Health Month and resources for Veterans. Sharing this content with your audiences brings attention to mental health conditions Veterans may face after service and the many treatments available to help them thrive.
  • Visit for inspiring stories from Veterans and to learn more about evidence-based treatment at VHA.
As we conclude Mental Health Awareness month, I am reminded that there is a changing landscape in all our environments, with both heightened attention to the needs and greater expectations across the nation when it comes to mental health services and supports. As the professional medical society representing preventive medicine physicians dedicated to improving the health and quality of life of individuals, families, communities and populations, ACPM will continue to bridge the divide between public health and clinical practice and to address our biggest health care challenges. Mental health awareness must become a year-long priority, and I remain encouraged by our potential as a College to contribute to this important effort.
Ryung Suh, MD, FACPM 
ACPM President-Elect and Chief of Staff, Veterans Health Administration

Tamara Campbell, MD, PsyD, DFAPA 
Executive Director, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Veterans Health Administration 
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