Mental Health Awareness Month

GOLF MANOR (5/1/2021) — Submitted by Mayor Stefan Densmore

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States by Presidential Decree since 1949, basically right after WWII. The purpose of Mental Health Awareness Month is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illnesses, the realities of living with these conditions, and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness.

Local Statistics. About 1 in 20 adults experience a serious mental illness every year– in a village the size of Golf Manor, that is approximately 181 people per year. It is estimated that annually, in a village the size of Golf Manor, 361 individuals seek mental health help per year and another 361 individuals experience mental health problems but — for whatever reason — do not seek help. That is a potential total of 722 Golf Manor residents experiencing a mental health condition per year (1 in 5 adults in the United States). These figures are derived from the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI)

Mental Health crises are recognized to have increased over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified a significant increase in anxiety and depression, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the major categories of Mental Illness include: 1) Anxiety Disorders, 2) Mood Disorders, and 3) Thought Disorders. Post-Traumatic Disorders can have symptoms associated with any of these categories, but are cases in which we can more readily identify a specific event that seems to have caused the disorder. A mental health problem, in the most basic sense, represents a change in the way an individual thinks, perceives or feels in the world around them– in such a way as to become debilitating.

Outcomes, Stereotypes and Stigma. More often than not, there are changes that can be made to more successfully live with mental illness, as well as pathways to fully recover from mental illness. But it is true that there are some instances where a mental illness does not seem to get better, and persists in a devastating manner to the individual, and their family, friends, and community. 

Sometimes people can have a pre-existing idea (a stereotype or stigma) that these illnesses always just get worse, and continue to spiral out of control– and that this is the normal outcome. The truth however, is that more often than not, people do get better, and people do fully recover. 

People sometimes also have the idea that positive outcomes, such as people getting better, happen or should happen without the help of family, friends, and community– the truth is that more often than not, outside help is intimately connected to successful outcomes and complete recovery.

Barriers & Stigma. Often one’s struggle is not just with illness but with the healthcare system as well, where the system can be difficult to navigate, and good care often cost prohibitive in the for-profit world, and underfunded in the nonprofit world. Stigma about using help can also be a barrier– two types of this include fear about what others will think about you seeking help, or a pre-existing belief that treatment doesn’t actually work. Barriers also include prejudice and discrimination and structural barriers like transportation.

You Are Not Alone. In closing I’d like to emphasize the theme that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has for mental health awareness month this year: “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”– there are people just like you that have recovered, and people that can intimately help. The local way to make contact for these services is by calling 211 which connects you with the United Way. There are also freely available application forms and community mental health resource guides located online at the Cincinnati Chapter of United Resource Connection a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

This report is respectfully submitted to the residents of Golf Manor. Thank you for the honor of being your Mayor. 

Stefan Densmore, Mayor, Village of Golf Manor

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