Week 81 of Action: World Mental Health Day
Today is World Mental Health Day. This day is dedicated to help raise awareness of mental health issues and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health issues.
Mental illness can affect anyone, regardless of age, economic status, or race. Each year, more than 57 million Americans (that’s 1 in 4) are affected by one or more psychiatric disorders. Mental health disorders are common and treatable. While some are mild, the range includes serious disorders such as schizophrenia. Anxiety disorders and depression are the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Anxiety affects more than 44 million people, and can range from generalized anxiety disorder, to phobias, to post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression which can affect anyone, at any age.
With proper treatment and support, people with mental health issues can live full and productive lives. However, instead of compassion and acceptance, people with mental health disorders frequently face discrimination and stigma, often leading to loneliness and isolation.
Like many other United Ways, the Town of Palm Beach United Way has identified mental health issues either as a lead issue or as a component of other strategies – whether it’s addressing homelessness, early childhood development and school readiness, or other education, income and health issues.
One program of several that is funded by the Town of Palm Beach United Way is Center for Child Counseling’s Community Social-Emotional Wellness program. Chris, a young boy with a long history of domestic violence, family instability, attending a childcare center in West Palm Beach, was referred for counseling to address extreme behavioral issues in the classroom. Teachers reported that Chris talked about guns all the time, made guns out of blocks, and put his play gun to the heads of other children, making statements such as “you will be dead in 48 hours.” Chris displayed extremely violent behaviors, including the use of profanity. Shortly after entering counseling, Chris witnessed a deadly shooting on the way to school. Chris was able to receive on-site services through the Center for Child Counseling’s Community Social-Emotional Wellness Program immediately. Over the course of six months, Chris’ behaviors shifted dramatically. He started making positive choices, using positive words, and became a role model in the classroom. This success doesn’t stop with Chris. His grandmother, a teacher at the childcare center, was initially skeptical about services and how they would impact her grandson. After seeing the positive change in in Chris, she became engaged and an advocate for services.