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Officials sign Mental Health Awareness Month proclamation

Albany Herald - 5/15/2019

May 15-- May 15--ALBANY -- Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and Dougherty County Commission Chairman Christopher Cohilas signed a joint proclamation on Wednesday designating May as Mental Health Awareness Month in the city and county.

Some facts from the proclamation include:

* One in four adults experiences a mental health disorder in a given year;

* One in 17 adults lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder;

* One in ten children lives with a mental or emotional disorder.

Recent studies show that mental illness has become more commonplace in American society because of increasing risk factors such as anxiety, peer pressure, and trauma.

The program coordinator of NAMI Albany, Jere Brands, said that bringing awareness to mental illnesses is a start to normalizing the conversation. She said people suffering from a mental illness often will not reach out for help because they are unaware of the resources available.

"A lot of people are under the impression that they cannot afford (treatment), which is not true," Brands said. "The other part of it is that people, out of all the illnesses out there, they reject this one because people tend to misunderstand it."

One of the leading misconceptions that researchers mention about mental illness is that people "must" have had a genetic predisposition in relation to their mental health. Brands dispelled that myth.

"(People) are not predestined to have (mental illnesses)," she said. "Usually there is what we call a 'second kick' from the environment, even if it's like a traumatic experience."

During the month of May, Aspire Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Services, NAMI, and other behavioral resource centers will have workshops, training, and activities to help bring awareness to mental health.

Available local resources for treatment and recovery options for someone with a mental illness are Aspire, the Advocacy Resource Center, Phoebe Behavioral Health and Albany Area Primary Health Care.

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(c)2019 The Albany Herald, Ga.

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