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Mental Health Awareness Month events

Many people suffer from mental health concerns. Many are embarrassed to let others know that they are struggling. According to the 2021 report titled “The State of Mental Health in America,” put out by Mental Health America, the following are facts we should be aware of:

¯ Even before COVID-19, the prevalence of mental illness among adults was increasing. The numbers of persons experiencing symptoms of mental health concerns grew by 1.5 million people between 2017 and 2018.

¯ Rates of persons experiencing serious thoughts of suicide were also on the rise.

¯ The number of people seeking help with anxiety and depression rose drastically from January to September 2020.

¯ The number of persons experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety has continued to increase.

Often people hesitate to reach out for help, fearing how others will relate to them if it is discovered that they are struggling to cope. The truth is that most of us at some point in our lives will experience mental health challenges of some kind, either ourselves or with loved ones.

There are many treatments that are helpful in reducing symptoms and diminishing the impact for individuals and/or their families. Bob Ross, CEO of St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers, recently said, “St. Joseph’s recognizes that stigma reduction is both a community and an individual issue. We are committed to making additional mental health services available to help individuals and families confronting mental health challenges through efforts to effectively integrate mental health and primary care supports into substance use treatment. St. Joseph’s is also committed to increasing community awareness that asking for and receiving mental health services and supports represents an expression of strength not a reflection of weakness.”

The Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition has two events planned to address awareness of resources and reducing stigma. Representatives from local agencies will be available to help raise awareness of resources available.

“Caring for our mental health is just as important as caring for our physical health,” said Joe Riccio, director of communications and government affairs for Citizen Advocates. “Events like these are a great opportunity to raise awareness and connect people with the wide range of mental health supports and services we have available in Franklin County, and beyond.”

Local artist Shelley Shutler will also be on hand to play some inspiring music and lead discussion regarding recovery.

“Music is my way of expressing and working through my inner feelings, thereby opening a conversation to meet people where they are, and to promote mutuality, healing and recovery,” said Shutler.

The events are as follows:

¯ Friday, May 14 from 2 to 6 pm in Malone at Arsenal Green

¯ Friday, May 21 from 2 to 6 pm in Tupper Lake at the Municipal Park.

Present at the event will be:

¯ St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers

¯ Citizen Advocates

¯ Community Connections of Franklin County

¯ North Country Center for Independence

¯ Massena Independent Living Center

¯ Adirondack Arc

¯ Franklin County Veteran’s Service Agency

¯ Tri Lakes Independent Living Center

¯ And other community based organizations.

Please join us in support for all persons who struggle or may struggle with mental wellness. Robin Gay, director of community services at St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers, said, “We are excited about the opportunity to stand tall with people from all over our communities to say, ‘We all need support sometimes. Reach out for you or a loved one. It can save a life!”

For more information about the mental awareness events, please contact St. Joseph’s at 518-891-3950.

Deceil Moore, LCSW, is a certified community behavioral health project coordinator at St. Joseph’s Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers, based in Saranac Lake.

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