This column appears in the Nevada Appeal’s Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. So much of what we do physically impacts us mentally — it’s important to pay attention to both your physical health and your mental health, which can help you achieve overall wellness and set you on a path to recovery.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which started 69 years ago by Mental Health America to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone.
Agencies and stakeholders in Carson City are committed to improving access to mental health in our region and have formed the Carson City Behavioral Health Taskforce to develop strategies in the areas of housing, crisis triage, community case management, discharge planning, services specific for the youth, criminal justice collaboration, and public awareness.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is the foundation for thinking, communication, learning, resilience, and self-esteem. Mental health is also key to relationships, personal and emotional well-being and contributing to community or society. Mental illness is a medical condition, just like heart disease or diabetes. Mental health can be treated. Research continues on learning about the human brain, how it works, and best options to successfully manage mental health conditions.
Mental health issues affect all races, ages, genders, social status, background or other aspects of cultural identity. While mental illness can occur at any age, three-fourths of all mental illness begins by the age of 24. According to the American Psychiatric Association nearly one in five (19 percent) US adults experience some form of mental illness. One in 24 (4.1 percent) has a serious mental illness and one in 12 (8.5 percent) has a substance use disorder.
Mental Health issues can severely diminish the quality of life of the person who is ill, as well as their family and loved ones. Access to care and services becomes even more important as budget cuts to mental health services shift the issues to emergency rooms, schools, and local jails and prisons. That’s the reason some communities are working to train community members and law enforcement officials to identify people who may be in a mental health crisis. In Carson City, the Sheriff’s Office has implemented the Mobile Outreach Special Teams (MOST) which is a team of a mental health clinician and a crisis intervention trained deputy to respond to mental health crisis calls. The goal of MOST is to divert a possible arrest when possible and connect the individual to services. In addition, the Forensic Assessment Services Triage Team (FASTT) is comprised of a drug/alcohol counselor, mental health clinician, case manager, and a community health worker that begin meeting with inmates at the jail to begin developing connections and discharge planning and continue care in the community.
Mental Health Stigma
The consequences of mental health stigma are extensive. It makes mental illness seem like a choice or a character flaw and can prevent people from seeking support that could help them manage their condition. Words matter and sometimes our words contribute to that stigma a lot more than then you realize. Without intending to hurt anyone, we may be displaying some everyday behaviors that contribute to the negative stereotypes.
Here are a few you should be mindful of, according to experts (most of all, let’s teach our children!):
Avoid casually throwing around terms like “depressed” or “OCD;” like your favorite TV show goes off the air, or you organized your things a certain way. Saying either of those makes you “depressed” or “OCD” is false and trivialized real mental health conditions.
Avoid referring to someone as “psycho” or “crazy;” it’s common to use these words to insult someone they think did something wrong, but such pejorative terms further perpetuates the inaccurate idea that people with mental illnesses should be ashamed or feared, according to Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.
Avoid labeling someone based on their illness; you wouldn’t call someone who has a cancer, a “cancerous person.” Same rules apply.
Avoid judging or teasing someone displaying abnormal behavior; this is common when people talk about celebrities. It becomes newsworthy when a famous person “acts out,” either on social media or in real life. Commenters are quick to make jokes and assumptions which can send the message to anyone who experience mental health issues that their illness is humorous and doesn’t deserve compassion.
If you or a loved one needs help, please reach out. We have staff here at Carson City Health and Human Services that will give you further information. The following is a list of more resources:
Carson Tahoe Behavioral Health Services — 775-445-7350, 1080 N. Minnesota St. (Accepts most insurances)
Connections Behavioral Health — 775-686-0117, 777 E. William St., Suite 106 (Accepts Medicaid FFS, Medicare, Hometown Health, Silver Summit, Am better)
Serenity Mental Health — 775-841-6050, 775 N. Roop St., Suite 101 (Accepts Medicaid FFS)
Pacific Behavioral Health — 775-287-8270, 603 E. Robinson St. (Accepts Medicaid FFS, and Silver State)
ICAN Family Services — 775-434-7422, 504 E. Musser St., Suite 202 (Accepts Medicaid, Blue Cross Blue Shield, HomeTown Health, Tricare)
Division of Public and Behavioral Health Rural Clinics - Carson City — 775-687-0870, 1665 Old Hot Springs Road, Suite 150
If you are in crisis and need help, please contact Carson Tahoe Mallory Crisis Center, 775-445-8889, 775 Fleischmann Way, or the Mobile Outreach Safety Team. Call the Sheriff’s Office’s non-emergency dispatch at 775-887-2500 to request a MOST visit.
Mental Health America has developed a series of fact sheets (available at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may) on the importance of exercise, diet, and nutrition, gut health, sleep, and stress management. These tips can contribute to a long healthy well-being, mentally and physically.