National Mental Health Month is observed in May. Mental illnesses are the biggest cause of disability and illness in the world. Depression alone is one of the top leading causes of disability across the planet. It is important to continue to shine a light on mental illness and share with you some mental health services available in our community.
Throughout Connecticut, United Way 2-1-1 connects people to resources and assistance with mental health concerns. 2-1-1 has contact specialists available 24 hours day, seven days a week to answer calls and serve as a point of entry for crisis intervention services. 2-1-1 Connecticut is certified in crisis intervention by the American Association on Suicidology. This past year, 2-1-1 Connecticut answered more than 37,000 calls for mental health evaluation, assessment and treatment services. Mental health assistance is one of the most common requests received by 2-1-1.
To access Emergency Mobile Crisis Intervention Services, or if you or your child are in crisis, call 2-1-1 and press option 1.
If you’d like to learn more about 2-1-1 Connecticut, please visit 211ct.org and check out their newly launched video explaining new website features and an overview of services.
Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being. Last year, 2,148 people received mental health and substance abuse services through Middlesex United Way-funded programs. Our partners that offer mental health services include Child & Family Agency of Southeastern CT, which provides child and family mental health services; The Connection Counseling Center; Gilead Community Services Outpatient Services; Women & Families Center’s Sexual Assault Crisis Services, which you can reach via their 24-hour emergency hotline; and Rushford’s Mental Health First Aid program, a public education program that helps the public identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
Rushford’s Connect-to-Care program also provides early intervention program for youth who have gotten into trouble for alcohol and/or drug use. They provide an assessment, screening, groups and case management.
Mental Health Month was started 69 years ago by the national organization, Mental Health America, to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone. This past May’s Mental Health Month focused on how a healthy lifestyle may help prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems. It can also help people recover from these conditions. Eating healthy foods, managing stress, exercising and getting enough sleep can go a long way in making you both physically and mentally fit
To build awareness surrounding mental health, Mental Health America provided individuals with fact sheets surrounding diet and nutrition, exercise, gut-brain connection, sleep and stress. They also included worksheet on these topics to help individuals begin to change their lifestyles.
Mental Health America challenged individuals to make small changes — physically and mentally. Some examples of those challenges are looking at the types of foods we eat and using a printable grocery list, walking more during work breaks and tracking your steps, and completing one random act of kindness. All of these materials and challenges are still available. Please visit mentalhealthamerica.net to access them and more.
Individuals who you are taking steps to live a healthy lifestyle but still feel like they are struggling with mental health should visit mhascreening.org to check their symptoms. It’s free, confidential and anonymous. You can also call 2-1-1 to be connected to mental health resources.
For more information about mental health resources in Connecticut, browse 2-1-1’s eLibrary category of mental health-related papers, which contain useful links to organizations offering support and information on mental health disorders.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.