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Mental Health Month
Mental Health Month 

Wellness is more than an absence of disease. It involves complete general, mental and social well-being. Mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being. The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health. Poor mental health can significantly harm a person’s general health.

A person's mental health can be affected regardless of age, gender, race, or income. 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.

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. Research shows that stress is closely linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. It also shows that people who feel depressed or chronically stressed may have a greater risk of physical illnesses.

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

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. While conditions like depression are common, they are extremely treatable.

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.

Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one’s potential to lead a full and productive life. Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental health and substance use conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.

Online Resources

Mental Health America online mental health assessment

Local Mental Health and Human Service agencies

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