Since May is Mental Health Month, it’s a great time to start a new column about mental health. This is the first of an ongoing column, called Mental Health Matters, which will cover a variety of topics that concern mental health issues, written by local mental health professionals.

We all have the potential to develop mental health problems. Almost one in four Americans experience mental health problems each year. Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being, how we think and how we behave. According to the World Health Organization, mental health, specifically, is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. The most common types of mental illnesses include anxiety disorders, mood disorders and schizophrenia. The good news is there are various treatments for people who are experiencing mental health issues. These include psychotherapy (“talk-therapy”), medications and self-help and support groups.

In this weekly column, we aim to cover a wide variety of mental health-related topics that are meant to serve the well-being of our local community. The idea for this column came from a sub-committee of the Texoma Behavioral Health Leadership Team, which is a grass roots organization whose vision is to improve behavioral health and well-being for all people in the Texoma community. The mission of TBHLT is to serve as our local community’s hub for mental health and wellness. TBHLT brings together community leaders, mental health providers, law enforcement and other stakeholders from all across the Texoma community. Earlier this year, TBHLT hosted the third annual Community Behavioral Health Conference, which brought more than 500 attendees from across North Texas and South Oklahoma, doubling the attendance over the first year.

All of this activity bodes well for the direction our community is taking towards improving the mental health and well-being of the citizens of Texoma. These efforts are of particularly good timing given that our local area is growing rapidly, and with growth comes both opportunity and challenges. Mental Health Matters will serve to keep an open conversation going about mental health which will, in turn, keep us all more informed and more educated, as we work towards better mental health for all of Texoma.

Bill Mory is a Texoma-based licensed therapist in private practice. He lives in Denison with his wife and son, and is a strong community-building advocate and provider of workplace training on a variety of topics.