Click to Home
Mental Health Month
MCHDThis May is Mental Health Month
The McLean County Health Department is raising awareness of the important role mental health plays in our lives and encouraging members of the community to learn more about their own mental health and to take action immediately if they are experience symptoms of mental illness.

Addressing Mental Health Before Stage 4 (#B4Stage4)
When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start before Stage 4—we begin with prevention. When people are in the first stage of those diseases, and are beginning to show signs of symptoms like a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, we try immediately to reverse these symptoms. We don’t ignore them. In fact, we develop a plan of action to reverse and sometimes stop the progression of the disease.

Each year, about one in four Americans will be affected by some form of mental illness, and it is a leading cause of disability in the nation. When treated, rates of recovery are high; however, fewer than half of those with diagnosed mental illnesses will seek treatment. In McLean County, an estimated 20% of the population is at risk for having a mental health episode in their lifetime. Nationally, 1 in 20 persons have a persistent mental illness, giving McLean County an estimated 8,478 individuals in this category.

Mental illnesses are not only common, they are treatable. It’s up to all of us to help people learn what they can do both to protect their mental health and know the signs of mental illness #B4Stage4.

Types of Mental Illness
When we talk about mental health, the term "mental illness" is used most often, but there are many forms of mental illness.

  • Anxiety disorders: fear that interferes with normal functioning, such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. 
  • Mood disorder: unusually intense and sustained sadness, melancholia, or despair, such as major depression or bi-polar (also known as manic depression). 
  • Psychological disorders: wide range of illnesses which are all connected to a psychological and mental source, such as schizophrenia, personality disorders, eating disorders, or sleep disorders. 

Whatever the situation, we are all at risk of stress given the demands of daily life and the challenges it brings—at home, at work and in life. Stress has a huge impact on our lives and can make even day-to-day life difficult. Knowing other risk factors and symptoms of mental illness will help catch them early and help plan an appropriate course of action towards better health.

Effects of StressThe good news is there are many healthy choices and steps that individuals can adopt to promote and strengthen mental health—and overall health and well-being. Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy, but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes. 

Steps that build and maintain well-being and help us all achieve wellness involve:

  • a balanced diet 
  • regular exercise
  • enough sleep
  • a sense of self-worth
  • development of coping skills that promote resiliency
  • emotional awareness
  • connections to family, friends, and the community

Get Screened
Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it’s good to take periodic reading of our emotional well-being. One recent study said everyone should get their mental health checked as often as they get a physical, and some doctors screen for mental health by asking a series of questions about lifestyle, eating and drinking habits and mental wellness.

There are also online screening tools you can use (adults only). Taking a screening test is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

Mental healthAccess to Mental Health Services
The state of Illinois has reduced funding to mental health facilities by more than 30% since 2009, the start of the recession. While the McLean County Health Department does not provide mental health services, the McLean County Board of Health provides funding support to local mental health agencies. Mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse services are provided through contracts with local mental health and human service agencies

Access to mental health services was determined to be one of the top three health problems for which McLean County residents are at highest risk during the Illinois Project for Local Assessment of Needs (IPLAN) process from 2011 to 2012. IPLAN is a community health assessment and planning process that is conducted every five years by local health jurisdictions in Illinois. A mental health task force, consisting of health department staff and community partners, was created to find and implement possible solutions over the next five-year period.

Events and Trainings
Adult Mental Health First Aid training
Date: Thursday, March 21st from 8:00 a.m. until 4:45 p.m.
Location: McLean County Health Department
Fee: $10.00 (includes book and lunch)

Additional Resources
Mental Health America Website 
#B4Stage4 - Changing the Way We Think About Mental Health Fact Sheet
#B4Stage4 - Get Informed Fact Sheet
#B4Stage4 - Get Screened Fact Sheet

#B4Stage4 - Where to Get Help Fact Sheet
Healthy Diet: Eating with Mental Health in Mind
Rest, Relaxation & Exercise
Social Support: Getting Connected, Staying Connected
Alcohol Use and Abuse: What You Should Know
Stress: Coping with Everyday Problems