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Woodlands celebrates National Mental Health Awareness Month

Edwardsburg Argus - 5/9/2019

May 09-- May 9--CASSOPOLIS -- Despite gloomy skies and rain Tuesday afternoon, several employees and community members trekked onto the wet lawn at Woodlands Behavioral Health Network to plant small pinwheels in the grass in an effort to raise awareness about mental health.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and in recognition, Woodlands, 960 M-60 E., Cassopolis, kicked off a month-long awareness campaign, Why Care? Tuesday by planting pinwheels on the facility's front lawn. The ceremony was attended by Woodlands employees, board members and county officials such as Chief Judge Susan Dobrich and Carol Bealor, director of Cass County Friend of the Court.

"This is symbolic that people can recover," said Kathy Sheffield, CEO of Woodlands. "We are just trying to make imagery of recovery and action. We want to draw people's attention to Mental Health Awareness Month."

Why Care? is a campaign of awareness from the National Alliance of Mental Illness that is supported by Woodlands. The Why Care? campaign is an opportunity to share the importance of mental health treatment, support and services to all people, families, caregivers and loved ones affected by mental illness and a challenge to address systems and attitudes that present barriers to treatment and recovery, according to representatives with Woodlands.

As Woodlands is a center that treats individuals with substance abuse, mental illness and developmental disabilities, Sheffield said the Why Care? campaign fits with the goals of Woodlands. She added that she believes that addressing the issue of mental illness and drawing attention to it is a worthy goal for the month of May as mental illness is a widespread issue in the county.

"It matters," Sheffield said. "Basically, the Why Care? campaign says that if we care about each other, we care about each other's mental health. Without mental health, there is no real health."

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in America alone, 43.8 million people deal with mental illness. One in five adults experience some form of mental illness, and nearly one in 25 adults deal with a serious mental illness. By the numbers, 2.4 million Americans live with schizophrenia, 6.1 million live with bipolar disorder, 16 million live with major depression and 42 million have an anxiety disorder. Additionally, 10.2 million American adults live with co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.

Despite these high numbers, less than 40 percent of adults living with mental illness received treatment in the last year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

With numerous metallic and colorful pinwheels littering the lawn at Woodlands until the end of the month, Sheffield said she hopes that people will take notice and start up a conversation about mental health and the importance of treatment.

"This is a popular way of drawing attention," she said. "We are hoping that people see those pinwheels, look up and see Woodlands and see that our doors are open to them and that they have our support. ... It is all of our responsibilities to support mental health wellness and prevention efforts."


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