Letter to the Editor

Mental Health Month

Monday, May 24, 2021

It’s hard to imagine in this day and age, with so much information available literally at our fingertips, that we have such difficulty sorting out how to react to individuals with mental health conditions.

Our annual Mental Health Month observance attempts to promote more positive messaging about the importance of developing and maintaining better mental health. Mental Health conditions are no different than physical illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid conditions. We manage them with treatment to help us function better. Why are mental health conditions treated differently?

What makes it hard for us to admit we need help? Our culture prides itself on “everything being OK,” regardless of if individuals are struggling. Unfortunately, it takes an incident when behaviors get so out of control that we are forced to move into the world of mental health treatment. We have to ask ourselves then, “what could have been prevented if we had acted sooner?”

For the countless people with mental health conditions who knew something was “not OK,” there are usually family members, friends or significant others who saw something was different, unhealthy or headed for disaster. Learning the signs and triggers is the key to recognizing when we or a loved one needs help to prevent circumstances from getting worse.

Some may say that treatment doesn’t help, but is that really meaning that one is expecting a “quick fix” to longer term problems? To manage effectively, one has to be willing to do the work and take the time for recovery to happen. There’s so much to learn about mental health conditions and NAMI NW IA is here to help. It’s a grass-roots organization that offers classes (we have one starting June 21, here in Spencer) and support for families taught or facilitated by family members who have lived with loved ones who have mental health conditions. They have the “been there, done that” experiences that can give you compassion, the tools, support and hope to work through your private struggles.

It takes you making that first step to contact us to get involved, to share your experience in a confidential setting and to help yourself by being a part of a network with others who share these challenges. One of the bigger fears about mental health conditions is thinking you’re alone and no one else can understand. We ask you to come out of the shadows and gain some peace in sharing your story. Who knows: you could be the lifeline for someone else who needs to know there is hope. Call 712-357-5428 or contact us through our website, naminwia.org or by email at namiofnwia@gmail.com for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.

— Kimberly Wilson, LMSW, NAMI NW IA Board Chair