Much like optimal physical health requires effort including maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and addressing health challenges early before they become significant problems, optimal mental health also requires effort, often called mental wellness.
Mental wellness can improve one’s quality of life as well as increase life expectancy. With 1 in 5 people in the U.S. experiencing a mental illness in their lifetime, it is not only important to understand that recovery is very possible, but that early detection and intervention increases the chance of optimal mental health. Unfortunately, many people experience barriers to achieving mental wellness. One barrier is the lack of community awareness of mental health issues and resources available for those experiencing mental health challenges. Other barriers include stigmas about mental health that are intentionally or unintentionally shared. Community Partnership of the Ozarks is dedicated to promoting and supporting mental wellness through collaboration, education and advocacy.
During the past three years alone, we have collaborated with more than 30 community organizations to increase community awareness of mental health issues while sharing mental health facts that help debunk stigmatizing myths. More than 2,000 people have been trained on how to identify and appropriately interact with someone experiencing mental health challenges, and how to connect them to appropriate professional, self-help or other support strategies. In Greene County alone, those trained have advocated for youth mental wellness by making more than 14,000 referrals to youth experiencing mental health challenges or crisis. Additionally, 34 school districts have completed suicide prevention-specific training to teach students and staff the warning signs of a young person who may be thinking of suicide, and how to reach out to connect him or her to appropriate support.
For more information about our mental health collaboration, education and advocacy efforts, click the following links:
Mental Health First Aid
Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is a public education program which introduces participants to unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and most importantly – teaches individuals how to help a youth in crisis or experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. YMHFA is an 8-hour course which uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care. Anyone who regularly works or interacts with youth – teachers, athletic coaches, mentors, juvenile justice professionals and others – may find the course content useful.
Adult Mental Health First Aid is a public education program which introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adults, builds understanding of their impact, and overviews common treatments. Adult Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course, which uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect persons to professional, peer, social, and self-help care. The program also teaches about risk factors and warning signs of illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and addictions. The program offers concrete tools and answers key questions like “What Do I Do?” and “Where Can Someone Find Help?” Instructors compile and provide a list of community healthcare providers and national resources, support groups, and online tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support.
Mental Health Awareness Media Campaign
Mental health has been identified as a priority issue locally and across the nation – 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental health disorder, and ½ of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14; ¾ by age 24. The need for increasing community awareness about mental health has been identified as one of two early themes emerging from the year-long Greene County Mental Health Assessment currently being conducted. To help address this issue, we launched a region-wide mental health awareness media campaign to increase community awareness about stigma surrounding mental health challenges and to encourage people to connect with resources that can help make recovery possible.