Thursday, May 19, 2022

Mitchell: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Anxiety, sadness, a sense of loss or loneliness – these are common day-to-day feelings most of us experience from time to time. But for some, a growing number of people, these emotions continue for extended periods of time, affecting us at work, at home, at church and even among friends.

We may try to shrug it away, sleep it away or eat it away, but the feelings linger – always hiding just under the surface. This is just one type of the many mental health issues affecting our families, friends and coworkers. Often undetected, mental health issues are one of the fastest growing illnesses in the U.S., especially following a two-year pandemic that pushed many to the brink.

May, recognized as mental health awareness month, is the perfect time to shine a little light on an issue that touches all of us in one way or another.

Reports from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America and even the United Way of Denton County Behavioral Health Leadership Team all show the same reality – as mental health needs grow, resources for treatment continue to decline.

Here are a few startling statistics:

  • 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness each year (52.9 million)
  • 1 in 6 youth ages 6 to 17 experience a mental health disorder each year (7.7 million)
  • An estimated 16.21 percent of adults in Texas have a mental illness. If statewide data is applied to Denton County, an estimated 108,891 out of 671,750 adults in the county have a mental illness.
  • An estimated 59.6 percent of adults with mental illness in Texas did not receive treatment.

In Denton County, we already are having discussions about how we can work together to build upon our resources as needs steadily grow. With 82 people moving into our county daily coupled with recent events, we know these needs will escalate.

In the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report, Texas had an overall ranking of 44 out of 51 states in terms of the rate of mental illnesses and adult/youth measures. Texas was previously ranked 27. The higher rank shows an increase in mental illness rates and a decrease in access to care. In fact, for every mental health provider in the state, there are an estimated 880 individuals with a mental health need.

The Behavioral Health Leadership Team is working on an updated needs assessment report that will serve as a baseline to help guide us to next steps. What we are already learning is that the needs far outweigh available services.

One upcoming event in Denton County provides an opportunity to make a difference. Denton County MHMR Center’s Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors (LOSS) Team is planning a Music & Arts Festival from noon to 4 p.m. on May 14 at Red’s Yard, 410 N. Bell Avenue in Denton. The event will feature music, vendors, raffles and more with admission at $10 per person. Proceeds from ticket sales and a portion of the drink and food sales will help fund the LOSS Team, which has helped many family members in their greatest times of need. Call 940-381-5000 to purchase a ticket.

Together, we can work to make a difference in addressing the mental health needs of all Denton County residents. Let’s help bridge the gap between those who suffer and the help they desperately need. In the meantime, if you can be that listening ear or guiding hand in a time of need, it will be time well spent. All of us need help at one time or another. Be that help for someone else.

Connect With Us:  Be sure and connect with Denton County on Facebook at facebook.com/DentonCountyTX and on Twitter @DentonCountyTX. You can also follow me at facebook.com/DentonCountyCommissionerBobbieMitchell

If you have any questions or comments, please let me hear from you. My email is [email protected] and my office number is 972-434-4780.

CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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