Managing a mental health challenge can be difficult for a multitude of reasons. As we lead up to World Mental Health Day on October 10, Canopy Children’s Solutions wants to encourage individuals that “it’s ok to not be okay, but it’s not ok to stay there.”
“There are many reasons why people don’t get help for treating mental health challenges, one of the biggest being stigma,” said Canopy CEO John D. Damon, Ph.D. “Particularly for older generations, we were raised that you don’t talk about your feelings. If you have to admit that you need help for anxiety or depression, you are weak, you aren’t trying hard enough or you are just seeking attention. I’m thankful to see this younger generation battling back and talking about their struggles and shouldering that burden with friends and family. It’s a step, but we still have a lot of work left to do.”
In recent years, more emphasis has been placed on the prevalence of mental health challenges and the effect on people across all ages, races, genders, socio-economic levels, religions and ethnicities. Studies indicate that more than 50 percent of the population will experience struggles with mental health within their lifetime. However, many feel there is a risk in admitting their struggles could be used against them at work or in personal relationships.
Effective treatment works. The sooner an intervention is put into place after onset, the greater likelihood of a positive and long-term outcome. Talk to your primary care physician if you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of sadness, despair, anger, confusion, addiction, worry or fear that is impacting your ability to function in your daily life and ask for a referral.
Another top concern for individuals trying to get help for their mental well-being is access to appropriate care. Those who live in rural settings often have limited access to healthcare providers for general physical needs; that number is even more limited for mental health. However, with the increase in telehealth therapies, we are starting to see this barrier lift. There are also a number of resources available to help connect individuals with mental health providers:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website (https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/) to help match individuals with qualified providers in their area. They also operate a referral helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) website (https://www.hrsa.gov/) has information on finding affordable mental and physical healthcare, including centers that offer care on a sliding fee scale.
- Mississippi Department of Mental Health’s Helpline can help individuals identify available services across Mississippi 1-877-210-8513.
- Canopy’s Care Coordinators are able to identify appropriate and available resources within Canopy’s network of statewide solutions. If an appropriate solution is not available in a specific area, Care Coordinators can assist callers in finding available resources closer to home. Individuals can call 1-800-388-6247.
- Local churches, particularly larger churches, often have counseling ministries to help those struggling in the community. You can also research if your area has a community mental health center that offers walk-in care and crisis counseling.
Data indicate that 1 in 5 children and 1 in 4 adults experience a mental health challenge in any given year. Sadly, fewer than 20 percent of children and 40 percent of adults ever receive proper treatment. Even more heartbreaking is the number of suicides that occur each year as a result. If you or someone you know needs help, there are resources available 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
- If a person is in immediate danger, don’t leave them alone and call 911.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to connect callers to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals, 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454.
- Crisis Text Line connects texters throughout the U.S. with a crisis counselor who can provide support and information. Text “HELLO” to 741741.
- Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects veterans with a trained responder. The service is available to all veterans, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA healthcare. Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); Text Line 838255. People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss can call 1-800-799-4889.
- Disaster Distress Helpline provides immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including struggles related to COVID-19; 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.
It’s OK to not be OK, but it isn’t OK to stay there. Asking for help for your mental health or helping a friend or family member access professional care is a sign of strength, resilience and the first step in creating a healthier, happier you. To learn more about building resilience and caring for your mental health, visit mycanopy.org/shinethelight.