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May is Mental Health Month – Learning about “Life with a Mental Illness”

May 31, 2016

     When mental illnesses or disorders are talked about, the language typically used to describe these illnesses or disorders tends to be clinical and impersonal. These words, while useful for doctors or clinicians, often don’t do justice to what life with a mental illness feels like. That is why this year’s theme for Mental Health Month is a call to action to share what life with a mental illness feels like to someone who is going through it.

     Mental Health America and Community Mental Health Center, Inc., Lawrenceburg, encourage you to learn about “Life with a Mental Illness.” Mental Health Month calls attention to strategies and approaches that help all Americans achieve wellness and good mental and overall health. According to Mental Health America, mental health is integral to overall health. People need to care for their mental health so they can respond to the stress of daily life and the challenges it presents. This Mental Health Month, MHA and CMHC encourage everyone to learn about steps they can take to protect their mental health and to learn what it may be like to live with a mental illness.

     “This year’s theme and campaign are meant to help remove the stigma of speaking out about mental illness, so that more people can be comfortable coming out of the shadows and seeking the help they need,” said CMHC Executive Director Tom Talbot.

     “Mental illnesses are common and treatable, and help is available near you. We need to speak up early and in real, relatable terms so that people do not feel isolated and ashamed. Sharing is the key to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and to showing others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms,” said Talbot.

     May is Mental Health Month was started 67 years ago by Mental Health America, to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone. CMHC and Mental Health America encourage people to speak up about how it feels to live with a mental illness and to realize the critical importance of addressing mental health early, recognizing the risk factors and signs of mental illness, understanding what mental illness is and isn’t, and where to get help when needed. Research shows that by ignoring symptoms, we lose years in which we could intervene to change people’s lives for the better. Speaking out about what mental illness feels like can encourage others to recognize symptoms early on in the disease process and empower individuals to participate in their recovery.

     “Prevention, early identification and intervention, and integrated services work,” said Tom Talbot. “Telling people how life with a mental illness feels helps build support from friends and family, reduce stigma and discrimination, and is crucial to recovery.”

     The stages of mental health conditions are similar to those for medical conditions. Stage 1 involves mild symptoms and warning signs, a stage at which an individual continues to be able to maintain functions at home, work or school. In Stage 2, symptoms increase in frequency and severity and begin to interfere with life activities and life roles. Symptoms continue to worsen in Stage 3, with relapses and recurring episodes accompanied by serious disruptions in life activities and life roles. In Stage 4, symptoms have become severe and persistent and likely have jeopardized an individual’s life.

     About half of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health disorder sometime in their lives, with first onset typically occurring in childhood or adolescence. Most people will have supports that allow them to succeed – home, family, friends, school, and work. Intervening effectively during early stages of mental illness can save lives and put individuals living with mental illnesses on the path to recovery.

     CMHC uses a network of facilities in Batesville, Brookville, Lawrenceburg, St. Leon and Vevay to provide services in the region. The Center offers an array of services – from outpatient counseling to inpatient services to community and school-based services to housing services for individuals with serious and persistent mental illnesses – throughout this network. CMHC employs professional staff, from case managers to psychiatrists, to provide these services.

     If you, or a friend or a neighbor, are dealing with depression, anger, stress, substance abuse or addiction, grief, or another mental health issue, please contact CMHC, Inc., at (812) 537-1302, or visit our website at www.cmhcinc.org to find an office near you. Emergency services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling (812) 537-1302, or toll-free at 1-877-849-1248.

     All CMHC services are provided without regard to race, religion, disability, gender, color, age, national origin, ancestry, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political belief, status as a veteran, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.

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