Letter to the Editor

Mental Health Month

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May is Mental Health Month. Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. People experience symptoms of mental illnesses differently — and some engage in potentially dangerous or risky behaviors to avoid or cover up symptoms of a potential mental health problem. Mental Health America (www.mentalhealth america.net) reminds us that sometimes people — especially young people — struggling with mental health concerns develop habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or that could be signs of mental health problems themselves. Activities like compulsive sex, recreational drug use, obsessive internet use, excessive spending or disordered exercise patterns can all be behaviors that can disrupt someone’s mental health and potentially lead them down a path toward crisis. It is important to understand early symptoms of mental illness and know when certain behaviors are potentially signs of something more. We need to speak up early and educate people about risky behavior and its connection to mental illness — and do so in a compassionate, judgement-free way. When we engage in prevention and early identification, we can help reduce the burden of mental illness by identifying symptoms and warning signs early — and provide effective treatment Before Stage 4 (#B4Stage4). Contact your local mental health and/or substance abuse treatment provider for assistance. If your needs require immediate attention, please contact the NW IA Care Connections’ Crisis line at 844-345-4569.

— Kim Wilson, NAMI of NW IA secretary