May is Mental Health Month; intervene early

May is Mental Health Month.

This year’s theme is addressing mental health before Stage 4, calling attention to the importance of addressing mental health symptoms early, identifying potential underlying diseases and planning an appropriate course of action on a path toward overall health.

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. So why don’t we do the same for individuals who are dealing with potentially serious mental illness?
About half of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health disorder sometime in their life, with first onset usually in childhood or adolescence.

Research shows that by ignoring mental health symptoms, we lose 10 years in which we could intervene in order to change people’s lives for the better. During these years most people still have supports that allow them to succeed — home, family, friends, school and work. Intervening effectively during early stages of mental illness can save lives and change the trajectories of people living with mental illnesses.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition is to take a mental health screening. The goal of Mental Health America’s national office is to get every American screened and aware of their mental health so they can address it before Stage 4. Locally, MHA Sheboygan and our partners are here to help.

Call MHA Sheboygan at 920-458-3951 to learn more about mental health screening week, a collaborative effort of mental health professionals in the area providing free screening opportunities during the week of May 18-22. MHA will connect you to a local professional who is volunteering time to provide a free screening session to help you determine if further professional support is appropriate.

Or take advantage of the confidential free online screening tool all year long on MHA’s website at www.mhasheboygan .org. Screen for depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol abuse, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. Use your screening results to continue the conversation with a therapist, or start a conversation with your primary care provider, a trusted friend or family member and begin to plan a course of action for addressing your mental health.
Better yet, join us for the first ever Mental Health and AODA Resource Fair from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Sheboygan County at RCS Empowers, 1607 Geele Ave., Sheboygan.

A collaborative effort by Healthy Sheboygan County 2020’s Mental Health Committee, the objectives are for families, individuals and professionals to know and understand the resources available in the community.

This free event has more than 40 vendors who want to help you, your loved one or your clients on a better pathway to wellness. Food, kids’ corner, as well as a chance to win an iPad and other cool door prizes encourage you to take the initiative to address your mental health before Stage 4.

If you have questions about this event or the screening, contact MHA Sheboygan Executive Director Kate Baer at 920-458-3951 or info@mha Be well.

Kate Baer is the co-chair of the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health Committee and the executive director of Sheboygan County’s Mental Health America organization.