We have been told that societal stigma is the primary reason the rate of mental illness continues to rise. "If only we were more aware," we say, "then much of these problems could be solved." The irony is, of course, that we are aware of mental illness- more aware then we have ever been in history. It has become the subject of television shows and books and is often taught in schools. Societal awareness of mental health is critical, but it isn't the solution to the mental health crisis.
What we should be placing more emphasis on is fostering a personal awareness, of the mental health of ourselves and those around us. With respect to ourselves, we need to identify the people in our lives to whom we can go to without fear of judgement. If such a relationship has yet to exist, then we need to go out of our way in attempting to establish one. With respect to those around us, we should take every effort to be someone to whom our friends and family would be comfortable approaching with their problems. What's more, we should also play a proactive role in ensuring we understand the true feelings of those people, particularly when we notice something may be off.
With the exception of certain conditions, mental illness is not something that can readily be addressed on a societal level. Rather, each of us- as friends, children, parents, colleagues- each of us has the potential within ourselves to improve the state of mental health in this modern society. If everyone were to take this advice to heart, then the vast majority of the mental health crises would be resolved instantaneously. This is the awareness we should be spreading.