Mental health A topic for all

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of columns from agencies served by Jackson County United Way.

Mental health affects us all. How we feel about ourselves and how we interact in society plays an important role in how successful we can be in our life.

Mental Health America of Jackson County attempts to play a small role in assisting the people of Jackson County to lead successful lives.

Our primary goal is to educate people on issues related to mental health. We attempt to do that by writing columns for local newspapers, a quarterly newsletter, speaking engagements, attending health and community fairs, participating with other agencies to educate the importance of maintaining our mental health and supporting the work of Mental Health America.

We are supporting Mental Health America program Before Stage 4. Mental health matters for everyone. One in five American adults will have a diagnosable health condition in any given year. About half of the Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition in their life, with first onset usually in childhood or adolescence. Many times the diagnosis is not made until later stages of the problem.

Before Stage 4 is encouraging people who are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition to go to their website mentalhealthamerica.net and take one of their mental health screenings: Depression, general anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or alcohol or substance abuse. Use the screening results to start a conversation with your primary care provider, or a trusted friend or family member and begin to plan a course of action.

We partner with Head Start in Seymour and the Child Care Network’s pre-school at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School to provide “I’m Thumbody” self-esteem class for pre-school age children, which help the children to feel good about them self and learn that differences are okay.

We added a new partner this year the special education class at Seymour High School. We will serve 94 children.

We also provide opportunities for clients who are intellectually handicapped and those facing some type of mental illness to socialize. Socialization is important for all of us. Our socials provide our clients with an opportunity to be with friends and meet new people. They do not have many opportunities to attend events where their friends and or colleagues are present

At Christmas time, we provide gifts for 175 clients, many do not have families and live alone.

As a partner of the Jackson County United Way, they support us in doing all these things.

They provide us an opportunity work with the other partners and make connections throughout the county.

They also provide on-going training, assistance in recruitment of volunteers and help publicize our activities. The allocation process makes you look at what your mission is and whether you are fulfilling it.

The United Way’s Day of Caring provides us an opportunity to partner with Plaza Latina and the Latina 4H Group. The teenagers decorated 200 bags for our Christmas Gift Lift.

The United Way provides an important resource in helping the residents of Jackson County to maintain their mental health.

Bob Dembek is director of Mental Health America of Jackson County.