This May is the nation’s 67th annual National Mental Health Awareness Month. During this month we hope to encourage meaningful conversations regarding mental health, promote integrated health by explaining how the mind and body interact with each other, provide tips and tools for taking positive actions to protect mental health, and to change negative attitudes and stigma associated with mental illness.
A person’s mental health includes their emotional, psychological and social well-being, and is as important as physical health to their overall health and wellness. It affects how you think, feel, act, handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental illness is more common than most people realize. Approximately one in five adults in America experience a mental health condition each year, but only 41 percent receive treatment. In addition, one in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
While most people with a physical illness seek treatment, many people with mental illness delay or never seek treatment. This is mainly because of the stigma associated with having a mental health condition, which is caused by false beliefs such as people with mental illness are “scary,” “violent,” and that people can control their mental illness.
In order to make sure everyone with a mental illness gets treatment, individuals with mental illness need to be able to talk openly about their mental health, the way we talk about physical health, without fear of negative repercussions. If someone has cancer, they don’t intentionally wait until Stage 4 to get treatment; likewise, no one should wait until a crisis before seeking treatment for a mental health condition.
People with mental illness can and do recover. Recovery is a long-term process that involves hope, improved self-esteem, and normalizing activities such as having a partner, earning a living, and being engaged in society, even with limitations caused by the illness. It is a deeply personal, unique process for each individual. It involves a person changing their attitudes, values, feelings, goals and skills in order to live their best life possible.
St. Clair County Community Mental Health is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month with several events. The first is our annual Awards Recognition Banquet on May 1. Among those recognized were the winners of our creative arts contests, which focus on de-stigmatizing mental illness. This included Isabelle Trombly of Central Middle School, who won the Grand Prize in the our middle school writing contest.
In addition, the following students received recognition for their winning entries in the middle school writing contest. In the fiction category: Angelina Balduck, Marine City Middle School, first place; Addison Turner, Marysville Middle School, second; Jessica Justa, St. Clair Middle School, third. In the non-fiction category: Victoria Simons, Marine City, first place; Tara Ziehm, St. Clair, second; Ella Webb, Marysville, third. In the poetry category: Alexander Owens, St. Clair, first place; Alison Nichols, Fort Gratiot, second; Vincent Schweihofer, St. Clair, third.
Conner Fleury of St. Clair High School, won Best in Show in our high school art contest. Other high school art contest winners. GioVonni Carden, Marysville High School, first place; Vanessa Johnson, Capac, second; Brianna Harms, Marysville, third; honorable mention to Sarah Coulter, Port Huron High; Meghan Clark, Marysville; Natalie Loznak, St. Clair; and Sarah Bielecki, Yale. People’s choice: Sarah Frizzle, Marysville.
We also recognized Community Service Award winner Marcia Haynes of the Dementia-Alzheimer Resource Committee; Organization Award winner Blue Water Community Action; Media Award winner Michael Eckert, editor at the Times Herald; our Staff of the Year Manny Gonzales; Team of the Year Outpatient Services; Rights Champion of the Year Lori Ames; and Rights Team Champion of the Year, Bright Futures Life Skills Center, as well as people and agencies who donated time and money to our organization in 2017.
We also once again participated in the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Board’s 14th annual Walk-A-Mile rally in Lansing on Wednesday, May 2, to educate the public and legislators about mental health and to combat misconceptions and hurtful stereotypes.
On Saturday, we will hold our 10th annual Run for Recovery timed 5K run, timed 1-mile run for ages 12 and under, and 1-mile walk at our administration building at 3111 Electric Ave., Port Huron. The Run for Recovery highlights the importance of good physical health and how physical and mental health is related. Same day registration is available from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. For more details, please go to our website at www.scccmh.org.
And finally, we are celebrating this week, May 6-12, as National Nurses Week. Nurses in both behavioral and physical health organizations play a vital role in integrated healthcare, as they have the important task of working with people who have both behavioral and physical health conditions, which each play a part in a person’s overall wellness.
Throughout the year we will continue to advocate for the current public mental health system that is committed to a whole-person approach to service and to supporting beyond basic health needs. This includes supplementary services such as housing, employment, transportation, food assistance and nutrition, income supports, child welfare, and education. Please join us as we work toward an inclusive, person-centered system. Mental health must receive the same priority as physiccal health!
For more information St. Clair County Community Mental Health visit scccmh.org