Groups work to battle mental health stigmas

SHERIDAN — May is Mental Health Awareness Month and professionals in Sheridan County are working to increase local knowledge about best practices for optimal psychological health. In addition to spreading the word about services available locally, the month’s designation is an effort to counteract long standing societal stigmas surrounding mental health.

“The theme this year is ‘Mind Your Health,’” Northern Wyoming Mental Health Center Psychiatric Services Registered Nurse Lacy Jones said.

“More and more, we’re realizing physical health and psychological health are hand-in-hand, and it’s hard to have one without the other,” she said.

Sheridan’s NWMHC provides counseling for mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and addiction on a “sliding scale” basis for low-income or uninsured members of the community. Jones said this month, she’s hoping to get the word out about local resources for people who can benefit from psychological services.

“I like to tell people that one in four people suffer some behavioral health issue within their lifetime,” Jones said, indicating depression, anxiety and addiction are among the most common. “People that have these issues really truly don’t have control and they need assistance.”

As part of this month’s awareness campaign, NWMHC teamed up with Sheridan College to host an informational event on the college campus to provide information on relational health, mental health maintenance and other relevant topics.

Ruth Larson, director of counseling at the college, said traditionally, people in Wyoming make undeserved judgements about mental illnesses and tend to underestimate the value of professional psychological services.

“There is kind of a ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ mentality here,” Larson said, adding that a secondary goal of Mental Health Awareness Month is to fight against stigmas for those with mental health issues.

“If there’s something wrong with my car, I’m going to take a look at it and see if there’s something I can do, but a lot of it is going to be beyond my ability,” she said. “I think of mental health the same way. There are some things we can take care of ourselves and there are some times we need to go to another person.”

Jones agreed that starting the conversation with the right professionals is sometimes a difficult barrier for those who need help.

“We want to remove that stigma,” she said.

Sheridanites interested in learning more about services provided at NWMHC can call 674-4405. Students of Sheridan College can access counseling services by calling 674-6446 ext. 2008.

About

Tracee Davis

Tracee Davis joined the staff at The Sheridan Press in July of 2013. She covers business, energy and public safety. Tracee grew up in Kemmerer and has lived in several locations both in the U.S. and overseas. Her journalism training stems from her military service.

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