Promote mental health awareness, services

Mental health matters often go without proper consideration, if they’re considered at all. Many struggling with such issues hesitate to seek help because of their feelings, either self-imposed or by society and/or friends and family members, that mental health problems represent a personal weakness.

“No one would ever say that someone with a broken arm or a broken leg is less than a whole person, but people say that or imply that all the time about people with mental illness,” said Elyn Saks, legal scholar and mental health policy advocate.

Each May, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, along with national organizations, works to increase acceptance and awareness, reduce negative associations and promote seeking help for mental health matters.

“Whether we share resources, encourage others to seek help or simply are there for someone when they reach out to us, we instill hope and reduce stigma,” said Kimberly Boswel, Alabama commissioner of mental health.

This year’s theme encourages people to take time to “look around” and “look within.” Many factors affect mental health, from your environment to your genetics and more. 

In a crisis, or if you’re worried about a loved one who might need crisis support, call 988 for a direct connection to compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress.

We never know what struggles those around us are going through, so why not take that into consideration and think about how we can be kinder to one another and look for ways to help each other instead of just judging those around us? We could all use more consideration and help, and nobody should have to go at it alone. Together, we can make a difference and be stronger than we could be alone.

One step a person can take toward protecting their well-being is to reach out and call a
“warmline” – for non-crisis issues – as opposed to a hotline, which deals with crisis-level issues – such as the Wings Across Alabama’s Warmline, 1-844-999-WINGS, for free, non-crisis, confidential peer support.

There’s also the Recovery Organization of Support Specialists Helpline, 844-307-1760. Both are available 24/7, with peer support specialists available to offer assistance or resources.

Crisis centers are designated places for people to walk in or for law enforcement, first responders and EMS personnel to take an individual who is in mental health or substance abuse crisis. At a crisis center, the individual can receive stabilization, evaluation and psychiatric services. The Alabama Department of Mental Health website doesn’t list a crisis center serving Franklin County, and we think that’s a shame.

There’s a great need for more mental health resources, especially locally available ones, and we hope someone will step up to the plate to increase local support options.

Visit Mental Health America’s website, www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month, for a toolkit with resources, printable information, handouts, posters and do-it-yourself tools.

For more information, visit https://mh.alabama.gov/individuals/peer-support.

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