May kicks off Mental Health Awareness Month

By Haylee Pence

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MIAMI VALLEY – May is nationally recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month. The month of May has been recognized as Mental Health Month since 1949 from the organization, Mental Health America. Mental Health America and other partner organizations have been bringing awareness to mental health through media, screenings, and other events through awareness activities.

The 2022 theme for Mental Health Month is “Back to Basics” following the end of the pandemic where most of the population have undergone stress, uncertainty, isolation, and possibly losing a loved one.

“By most estimates, one in five adults will experience mental illness in any given year, and that was true across all demographics and prior to the pandemic,” stated Brad Reed, director of Community Resource Development at Tri County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services. During and following the pandemic, an increase in depression has been noticed while other mental illnesses are at the same rates as pre-pandemic levels.

Reed stated, “One study conducted by Vida Health in late 2020 showed that 88% of respondents said they experienced at least one of the symptoms of depression and anxiety in the prior year.”

“When it comes to spotting signs of possible mental illness in people we are close to — whether that’s family, friends, coworkers and so on – the most significant thing is to notice changes in mood or behavior. Changes in mood or behavior that negatively affect a person’s ability to work, maintain healthy relationships, and enjoy life are definitely red flags,” said Reed.

To honor this month, Tri County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services is utilizing a toolkit provided by Mental Health America to provide trainings and presentations throughout Miami County. They are providing information on mental health through social media as well.

“Mindfulness meditation is a series of techniques for focusing our attention on here and now, appreciating the moment and laying aside all of those stresses and worries. Mental Health Awareness Month is a reminder to me to practice this focus every day,” commented Reed.

The same study that was previously mentioned also stated that almost half of the respondents to the survey considered seeking therapy “as a sign of weakness,” according to the study. “There’s still a lot of work to do to reduce stigma around mental health treatment,” Reed commented.

There are multiple activities that individuals can do for self-care, including guided breathing, meditation, and physical activity. The Tri County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services have a list of techniques and tips on their website at tcbmds.org.

For those who are worried about their own mental health or the mental health of a loved one can visit the Tri County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services website. On the website is a directory of services offered throughout Miami County, a list of resources for treatment, support, and counseling services, and a confidential online screening tool (Checkup from the Neck Up).

“We at the Tri-County Board are encouraged that so many people seem to be willing to talk about and seek help for mental health challenges. Clearly, we have more work to do, but we welcome Mental Health America and others shining a light on mental health during the Mental Health Awareness Month,” stated Reed.

For those in a mental health crisis, the 24/7 Tri-County Crisis Hotline is 800-351-7347.