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Stamping out the stigma
May a time to understand complexity of mental health issues
new_deh_barton county commission center pic.jpg
Pictured is the Center for Counseling and Consultation in Great Bend. May has been declared as Mental Health Awareness Month by the Barton County Commission.

Facts about mental illness presented by Center for Counseling and Consultation Executive Director Julie Kramp:

• One in five Americans has experienced some form of mental illness, with one in 25 experiencing severe mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

• Suicide accounts for over 800,000 deaths globally each year with 41,000 in the United States alone. It is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.•

• The incidents of mental issues doubles for those who have been through war or some disaster.

• People with a mental health issue are generally non-violent. In fact only 3-5 percent of violent acts can be contributed to people with a serious mental illness.

• Many factors can lead to mental illness, such as genetics, physical illness or injury, and traumatic life experiences. 

• Many people do not seek treatment for mental illness due to the associated stigma. Only about 44 percent of adults with diagnosable mental illness seek treatment. 

• Treatments are more than prescription medication. Other therapies, yoga, mediation and wholistic treatments can all help assuage symptoms. 

• By addressing risk factors such as trauma, it is possible to prevent certain mental disorders, especially in children and adolescents.  

• Improving mental health services in low- to medium-income areas is not as costly as one might imaging, she said. Only $2 to $4 per capita would have a major impact.

• Each year, serious mental illness costs the United States nearly $2 billion in lost earnings. 

• About 50 of adults with substance abuse have mental illness.

• 20 percent of youth have a mental health condition with one in 10 young people having experienced a period of major depression 

• Members of the LGBTQ are twice as likely to have a mental health condition.

• 70-90 percent of people who seek proper treatment witness a significant reduction in symptoms. 

• Most people with mental illnesses lead productive lives.

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall well-being, Center for Counseling and Consultation Executive Director Julie Kramp said. 

“This year, The Center for Counseling and Consultation is working to ‘Strike out Stigma’ and help people understand that mental health is as necessary and important to care for as their physical health,” she said in addressing the Barton County Commission Monday morning. She spoke just before commissioners passed a proclamation declaring May as Mental Health Awareness Month, stating that with appropriate resources, treatment and support, people with mental health concerns are able to improve their well-being and quality of life. 

Last year in Barton County, the center served 1,497 clients, 704 males and 793 females. Of those, 20 were under the age of 6 and 90 were over 65.

As part of this effort, Kramp said they are planning Mental Health Awareness Day 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at the center. “We provide fun events for the children and families at no cost.”

There will be food, activities for children, community resources and a drum circle. “It’s just a wonderful day.”

Then, the Strikeout Stigma Softball Tournament is set for June 29 in association with the Great Bend Bat Cats semi-pro baseball team. 

“We’ve done a lot and we are going to continue to do a lot so people can see that mental health is just a part of every day life,” Kramp said. 

“The funding is never what you guys need it to be,” said commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz. The fundraisers help make up the difference, but also raise awareness of the center and the services it provides.

“We have a really good facility here and people need to be aware of it,” Schartz said.

“Everyone experiences times of difficulty and stress in their lives,” Kramp said. And, “prevention is an effective way to reduce the impact of mental health conditions.”

“Mental health conditions are real and prevalent in our nation,” she said. But, there is a strong body of research that supports specific tools that everyone can use to better handle challenges, and protect their health and well-being, and with early and effective treatment, those individuals with mental health conditions can recover and lead full, productive lives.

“Each business, school, government agency, healthcare provider, organization and citizen shares the impact of mental health issues and has a responsibility to promote mental wellness and support prevention efforts,” she said. “We must recommit to increasing awareness and understanding of mental health, the steps citizens can take to protect their mental health, and the need for appropriate and accessible services for all people with mental health conditions.”