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May is Mental Health Month. Many individuals and families have experienced or will experience a mental health issue at some point in life.
Many people who experience mental disorders are able to have relative normal lives with their families and careers provided they are properly diagnosed and receive appropriate treatment.
However, the stigma associated with mental illness continues to exist without any treatment of its own.
As we observe Mental Health Month, let us be reminded of the many individuals and families who live with mental illnesses, and the caregivers and medical professionals who work together to make their lives more healthy and productive.
Mental Health America of Lancaster County (MHALC) is one of the oldest all volunteer organizations in the county. We are dedicated to promote mental health in support of individuals and families through referrals and crisis assistance for medication; educate city and county residents about mental health issues to help eliminate the stigma; and advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves and act as a catalyst for vital programs and policies.
Each day we face challenges that often put extraordinary pressure on our mental health. And, as the mind goes, so does the rest of the body. Poor mental health can affect the entire body and contribute to other health issues.
Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age and economic status anyone can be affected with mental illness. Therefore, it is important to “Get Connected” with the following suggested tips to build a good social support system to add to good mental health.
First, connect to family and friends who are supportive, positive, a good listener and will share what is on your mind honestly and openly.
Second, connect to your community by looking into various organizations that bring people together or help fill a need. Understand your situation and your interest and find a volunteer position that is right for you.
Finally, connect with health care professionals for proper diagnosis and medical treatment. Get routine checkups and visit your doctor when you are not feeling well.
This month, the PBS station in partnership with Mental Health America will began airing a powerful documentary, “Men Get Depression.” This broadcast will feature real men living with depression who have braved through the stigma to share their stories of recovery with mental illness. For additional information, go to www.mengetdepression.com or www.depresionyloshombres.com.
MHALC members, contributors and partners recognize that mental health is fundamental to overall health. We encourage individuals and families to “Get Connected” with community organizations and health care professionals to aid in recovery and help you feel better overall.
Our annual dinner meeting is planned for June 5 at the Carole Ray Dowling Health Services Center on the University of South Carolina Lancaster campus beginning at 6:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “Suicide Prevention and the Teenager.”
Please come and support our efforts to bring awareness to teenage suicide in our local communities and throughout the Palmetto State.
The keynote speaker will be Cheryl Samuel Stover. She is principal at West Lee Elementary School in Bishopville and has received numerous awards in her 18 years in education. Stover has written several books.Her most recent is “Walk out of the shadows: Poetry to Inspire and Encourage Youth in the 21st Century.”
Tickets can be purchased by contacting Kathy Wilds at 285-8805 or Sandy Thompson at 285-7456.
Matt Williamson is president of Mental Health America of Lancaster County.