To the Editor: Focus on mental health year-round

Dear Editor,

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it has probably never gotten as much public attention as it has this year. That’s both good and bad.

To address the stigma around mental health disorders, we must talk about them openly and honestly year-round. As the Rosecrance Central Illinois Executive Director, it has been refreshing to see mental health in the spotlight for a sustained period.

Unfortunately, I also know that is because many of us are struggling. Mental illness affects one in five adults and one in six youth in a normal year. With COVID-19, that number doubled for adults. The past 12 months have been particularly difficult for those who struggle because they had to adjust to isolation and care by phone or video.

It is tough to talk about something this sensitive, but maybe now is the best time any of us might have to ask how our loved ones truly are doing. Once you have that first conversation, don’t let it be a just a May thing, or wait until we’re reminded again during Recovery Month in September. Make relationship-building check-ins a part of your life every day. The more you connect, the brighter someone’s world becomes through the joy of real relationships.

If you’re a little nervous about speaking up, or if you’re struggling with mental health now, know that you’re not alone. Whatever your concerns, there are many resources available to help you find information, support groups, or treatment. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is one place to turn. The Illinois Department of Health Call 4 Calm text line (text “talk” to 552020) is another great resource for emotional support. And, as always, caring Rosecrance Central Illinois staff would be delighted to talk with you or point you to valuable groups and resources.

Please remember that together we can help those who struggle with mental illness, and we can continue to work to end the stigma.

Life’s waiting.

Joey King, Central Illinois Executive Director