May is Mental Health Awareness Month – Let’s work toward a Stigma-free Idaho

042518MentalHealthAwarenessMillions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition, which is challenging enough. Add to that the stigma associated with mental illness, and it can cause people to avoid help and treatment. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the Division of Behavioral Health will be hosting a program this Friday at the Idaho State Capitol featuring several Idahoans sharing their stories of recovery, so it’s a great time to talk about it and help put an end to the stigma about mental health issues. 

How many people really are dealing with a mental illness?

Generally, 1 in 5 adults and children have a diagnosable mental illness. That makes mental illness more common than cancer, diabetes, or even heart disease, and yet we hear much more about those diseases than we do about mental health. That’s why this month is so important. About half of the adults in the U.S. will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives. Mental illness is normal in our society. It’s also normal to live a life of recovery.


How do you know if someone needs help? What should we look for?

Symptoms for children and adults can vary, but they can include changes in behavior, feeling sad or depressed for a long time, drug or alcohol abuse, changes in eating or sleeping habits, suicidal thoughts, and excessive anger, hostility, or violence. Mental health conditions often appear for the first time during adolescence, but it can happen at any time in a person’s life.

If you need help, or you know someone who needs help, where do you start to get that help?

If a person is having suicidal thoughts, please call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-208-398-4357. Otherwise, you can talk to your doctor, and you can call the Idaho CareLine by dialing 211 and our agents will help you find resources.


Does treatment help?

Treatment can help most people significantly reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life. More than two-thirds of Americans who are living with a mental illness are also leading productive lives because of their care and treatment. People can and do recover all the time.

And tell us what’s happening Friday morning at the Capitol?

You can help celebrate recovery and be part of the conversation by attending the Idaho Mental Health Awareness event at 11:30 a.m. Friday in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho Statehouse or by watching the Idaho Public TV livestream. DHW Director Russ Barron will present the 2018 Mental Health Awareness Month proclamation, and several other speakers will talk about their challenges and successes with mental health. The Voice of Idaho Award also will be presented by Behavioral Health Administrator Ross Edmunds, plus we’ll have artwork, short-stories and poetry submitted by Idahoans around the state sharing their resiliency in overcoming mental illness.

A Closer Look at Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. on KBOI 670 AM in Boise each Tuesday; this is a transcript of the May 1, 2018 program. 


One thought on “May is Mental Health Awareness Month – Let’s work toward a Stigma-free Idaho

  1. Pingback: Recognizing Idahoans who have championed mental health recovery and an end to stigma (Video link) | DHW: Promoting and protecting the health and safety of Idahoans

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