May is Mental Health Awareness Month

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PIERRE S.D. – The CACS Board of Directors, along with other national groups, has proclaimed May as Mental Health Month.

When mental illnesses or disorders are talked about, the language typically used to describe them tends to be clinical and impersonal. These words, while useful for doctors or clinicians, often don’t do justice to what life with a mental illness feels like. That is why this year’s theme for Mental Health Month— Life With a Mental Illness — is a call to action to share what life with a mental illness feels like to someone going through it. Life with a Mental Illness is meant to help remove the shame and stigma of speaking out, so that more people can be comfortable coming out of the shadows and seeking the help they need.

“Mental illnesses are common and treatable, and help is available. We need to speak up early in real, relatable terms so that people do not feel isolated and alone,” said Doneen Hollingsworth, CACS Board of Directors member, “Sharing is the key to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and to showing others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms.”

Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness is not always easy. Some common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include excessive worrying, feeling very sad, difficulty concentrating, extreme mood changes, avoiding friends and social activities, changes in sleep or eating habits, and abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs. There are many other signs and symptoms of mental illness so learning all we can about mental health is very important.

“When we are able to speak out about what mental illnesses feel like we can encourage friends and family to recognize symptoms early in the disease process and empower individuals to be agents in their own recovery.  Together we can give a voice to feelings and fears, and to hopes and dreams”, added Hollingsworth.

Capital Area Counseling Service wants our community to know that mental illnesses are real, that recovery is always the goal, and prevention, intervention, and integrated services work.

This Mental Health Month, Mental Health America is encouraging people to speak up about how it feels to live with a mental illness by tagging social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike.

Posting with this hashtag is a way to speak up, to share your point of view with people who may be struggling to explain what they are going through—and help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness.

For more information visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs  or www.cacsnet.org .


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