Mental Health Association of South Mississippi

Kay Denault
Executive Director
Mental Health Association of
South Mississippi

Mental Health Awareness Month

This year we are getting back to basics to help people learn about mental health. Mental illness is a diagnosable illness. People are talking more about mental health these days. There has been more discussion in the news and on social media. The more public the mental health dialogue becomes, the more comfortable people are about asking for help.

As of July 16, 2022, anyone facing a mental health crisis can call 988 and get connected 24/7. The call is free and confidential, and someone is always there to answer. The line is staffed with trained crisis counselors who understand what callers are going through and what local resources might be helpful. 988 is a much more manageable number to remember than the current 800 number. MS is part of the national system, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

One common question is how to know when someone needs help. Everyone goes through challenging things from time to time. According to the National Council on Behavioral Health’s program Mental Health First Aid, it is time to act when it affects a person’s thinking, emotional state, and behavior. Indicators would include disruption of the person’s ability to work, conduct daily activities and engage in satisfying relationships. For example, if someone can no longer do their job or function at school, it could be a sign. If they are not taking care of their personal hygiene or continue to exhibit risky behavior, it may be time to get help. We are all unique individuals, so not everyone experiences symptoms in the same manner.

Mental Health Association of South MS is one of the organizations in the state facilitating Mental Health First Aid classes to learn about signs and symptoms and how to approach someone. One of the topics is suicide. Most people are afraid to ask someone they care about if they have suicidal thoughts. A common myth about suicide is that it could put ideas in a person’s head if you ask them about it. That is not true, and in fact, most people are relieved to talk about it. They may be feeling alone and hopeless. Just by asking, “are you thinking of suicide,” a door may open to an honest conversation.

Mental Health Association of South MS is the state affiliate of Mental Health America. A 2022 Mental Health Month toolkit provides free, practical resources to introduce mental health topics like recognizing warning signs, knowing the factors that can lead to mental health conditions, maintaining mental wellness, and seeking help for mental health. Here you can find messages, graphics, and ideas on how to help spread the word. To get your copy go to https://www.mhanational.org/

Mental Health Association of South MS

4803 Harrison Circle, Gulfport, MS 39507

228-864-6274

www.msmentalhealth.org

@MHASouthMS

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