Opinion

Here’s what we’re doing to try to improve the region’s mental health

The Center for Racial Harmony is involved in an on-going initiative regarding Community Wellness. Community Wellness has multiple components, including but not limited to: Physical health, educational & intellectual development, family integrity & support, spiritual wellness, educational & vocational opportunity and maintaining a safe & sustainable environment. It also includes mental health, an umbrella term for not only “mental health”, but emotional health and social well-being.

May is recognized as National Mental Health Month. However, October 10th is recognized as World Mental Health Day – a day for mental health education, awareness and advocacy against the social stigma which causes those suffering to remain silent, avoid seeking help and, worse, seek undesirable alternatives to alleviate, conceal or, in the extreme, to harm themselves.

Mental health professionals tell us that evidence indicates that during the course of a person’s lifetime one in four persons has a diagnosable mental health condition which would benefit from treatment. A study of the lifetime prevalence of mental health disorders among adolescents demonstrates a considerably higher ratio. It has further been estimated that more than 50% of those with a mental health condition do not seek treatment. While stigma is not the only reason, stigma combined with the cost and availability of quality mental health care constitute the major impediments.

Not only are mental health conditions often undiagnosed and untreated, the consequences of people in poor mental health affect substantially all other aspects of wellness: physical health, educational & intellectual development, family integrity, spiritual wellness and vocational capacity. It has been said that EQ – Emotional intelligence has a greater impact on an individual’s success than I.Q. – Intellectual intelligence. This is easy to understand since the core ingredients of success in the workplace are concentration, motivation, emotional management, communication and relationships with others. According to the World Health Organization the leading cause of disability worldwide isn’t cancer or chronic pain, but rather depression.

The Center for Racial Harmony would like to extend its gratitude to all those in the community who provide care, assistance, therapy, treatment, support or encouragement to those with mental health conditions or who work towards providing youth and adults the tools necessary to develop resistance, resilience, flexibility and positive emotion regulation. These include not only mental professionals, counselors and therapists, but teachers, spiritual leaders, school administrators, parents and volunteers with proper guidance and training.

The Center for Racial Harmony encourages individuals, families and others confronting mental health conditions to seek an appropriate mental health professional, therapist or clinician. Such individuals can better guide you on the appropriate focus, goals, modalities of treatment and the resources available for the symptoms and conditions involved.

While the Center for Racial Harmony does not provide mental health services, we do seek to break down the barriers and help inform the public of local resources they might wish to consider. The following are neither references nor referrals, but instead represent an alternative place to start the conversation (if you do not have a healthcare provider who can provide you an appropriate referral) in order to begin the journey towards better mental, emotional and social well-being: Chestnut Health System (24/7), Comprehensive Behavioral Health (Before 5p.m.), National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7), Gateway Foundation, Children’s Home & Aid: Youth Services Program and Touchette Regional Hospital. Also available are the following Hotlines: Adult Protective Services, Nursing Home Abuse, Child Abuse and Neglect. As recommended by the St. Clair County Mental Health Board, in the event of an emergency, please call 911.

The Center for Racial Harmony seeks to help facilitate an interactive collaborative community. Imagine a community where the public better understands and effectively utilizes the resources available for all aspects of community wellness. Further imagine a community which encourages all those providing such services and benefits to enhance their cooperation and effectiveness through the development of best practices through awareness and working together.

If we, as community wellness citizens, discover how to better utilize the vast underdeveloped talents of those in our community, think of the benefits we can realize. Perhaps we can start through the more effective collaboration of the wonderful outreach programs presently operating throughout our community, particularly those involving mental health. Each mind matters in school, at home and in the community. Let’s do our best to keep them healthy.

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