February 2020 is almost gone and we are fast approaching the Spring anniversary of the Mental Health Matters column. This column was started by local mental health professionals who wanted to help educate citizens about mental health. The intention was to make it more common, and easier, for people to talk out loud about mental health, versus whispering about it. The column has sought to educate readers on how to recognize when others are struggling, how to help and get help. Many contributors to the column have shared information about a variety of things that impact our mental health and what we can do to uplift and maintain our own mental health and that of others around us. An overarching goal of Mental Health Matters is to help people to realize that responsibility for the mental health of all of us … falls to all of us. It is in how we, as individuals and as a community, think of it, how we talk about it, how we treat it and how we weave it into our relationships, families, schools and workplaces.
One way to help integrate this concept of ‘mental health as commonplace’, is to remember that each one of us may exhibit symptoms at various times throughout our lives, as we deal with the many challenges that life deals out. Although we may not always seek support, almost 1 in 4 Americans experience mental health problems each year. Considering our cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being, how we think and how we behave, everyone can move back and forth on a mental health continuum. This can range from ‘pretty healthy’, to ‘managing with a diagnosis’ to ‘critically ill’ and to ‘chronically ill’. This concept of a ‘range of mental health’ helps us understand that experiencing mental health issues does not necessarily mean that every individual has a lasting, chronic mental illness. This view of behavioral health helps us understand the importance for communities to educate on recognizing early warning signs of a mental health issue and provide opportunities for support across the community.
To get a real sense of how a community can come together on mental health look no further than next week. The 4th Annual Community Behavioral Health Conference will take place on Thursday, February 27th at the Hilton Garden Inn, in Denison. This day-long conference brings together a variety of both local and national experts on trauma and mental health. You’ll find an atmosphere where you can visit with others interested in improving mental health and learn how individuals and organizations can better support those with mental health challenges (tickets at EventBrite.com). As a free bonus the day before the conference, you can attend an interactive panel set up by the Access to Care sub-committee, a part of the Texoma Behavioral Health Leadership Team. This session, called “Connecting the Dots”, is on Wednesday February 26th from 1pm – 6pm, and is a come and go event with a panel of Texoma area mental health professionals who will answer questions and provide information specifically for parents of children with mental health and physical challenges. Texoma is a community working to demonstrate that Mental Health Matters! All of these activities…. a behavioral health leadership group, a mental health column, an annual conference, a committee dedicated to improving access to mental health care and so many more efforts throughout the year by a variety of professionals and organizations, are all indicators of a community that cares about better mental health for everyone.
Bill Mory is a Texoma-based licensed therapist in private practice who is a strong community-building advocate and a provider of workplace training on a variety of topics. Andrea Mory is a human resources and management professional who has collaborated over the last 20 years with the private practice MoryTherapy to develop training and education programs related to behavioral health. Learn more at www.morytherapy.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.