May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Bloomington, IL—May is Mental Health Awareness Month and McLean County Health Department is encouraging everyone to embrace this year’s theme Look Around, Look Within.
According to the 2022 McLean County Community Health Needs Assessment, 18% of McLean County adults surveyed rated their mental health as poor. And 40% of youth surveyed reported feeling sad or hopeless every day for two weeks or more. Yet many respondents listed “access to care” as a primary reason for not getting help with mental health issues.
“We are fortunate in McLean County to have a community that views mental and behavioral health as a high priority,” said Jessica McKnight, Administrator of McLean County Health Department. “But of course, the presence of resources does not remove all barriers to accessing the care and services we need.”
To further support core behavioral health service in McLean County, the McLean County Board of Health awarded over $1.7 million dollars to local agencies to use during Calendar Year 2023. The funded programming will further boost the prevention, education, and intervention of youth mental health; the mobile crisis team and 211 Call Center; and adult psychiatric services.
Learning more about available resources can be as easy as picking up the phone and making a phone call. This includes following services available in McLean County and across Illinois:
- Dial 2-1-1 to access the PATH Resource Support Line (housing, food, etc.). PATH stand for “Providing Access To Help.” Visit them online at https://www.pathcrisis.org/
- Dial 1 (866) 359-7935 to access The Illinois Warm Line for non-emergency emotional support, recovery education, self-advocacy support, and referrals.
- Dial 9-8-8 for the Mental Health Crisis Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Hotline or visit https://988lifeline.org/current-events/the-lifeline-and-988/
Stigma is a major barrier for some residents when it comes to identifying and seeking help for behavioral health issues. Online self-screen tools like those available at Mental Health America (MHA) and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) can be quite useful for those who prefer to privately identify issues like anxiety, depression, post-partum depression, addiction, and bi-polar disorders. If preferred, those same tools can provide connections to other online resources where they can remain anonymous, community support groups, or professional behavioral health services.
This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Month also challenges us to consider how our environment (where we live, learn, work, play, and gather) effects our mental well-being.
“There are small steps we can take to have a positive impact on our emotional well-being,” added McKnight.
One of those steps may involve working to change your living environment for a better sense of safety or stability. Simply keeping your space tidy, removing hazards, improving your sleep environment, or surrounding yourself with certain items can help create a more positive and calm space.
Improving social bonds is another way to help improve mental health. Consider getting to know the people living around you, joining (or starting) a neighbors-helping-neighbors group, or supporting your local businesses. Meeting new people may also connect you to new resources or opportunities. Research shows spending more time outdoors can also improve mood, cognition, and overall health, whether it’s a group activity, spending time with animals, gardening, or simply sitting outside.
Mental Health First Aid courses that focus on identifying mental health issues and accessing community resources for adolescents, adult and/or older adults are open to all and available through the Mental Health First Aid Collaborative. Click here to learn more: https://health.mcleancountyil.gov/606/Mental-Health-First-Aid