In May we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month. We opened this month with a celebration campaign focusing on our youth: Children’s Mental Health Matters! On May 2, the Carroll County Commissioners issued a proclamation recognizing the critical importance of mental health treatment; many youth and families, providers, and other champions of mental health awareness attended the session.
At Carroll County Youth Service Bureau (CCYSB), we celebrate this month in recognition of the significant advancements in medicine for behavioral health, the clinical staff who make it their life’s work to assist in the recovery journey, and the clients who do the hard work to improve their very quality of life.
This column focuses on two of the more common mental health concerns: Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. While both conditions are serious medical illnesses, they are shown to be treatable with medication, when indicated, and with counseling.
At CCYSB, we consider therapy to be a critical component in treatment as it may offer new ways of thinking and behaving, and assistance in working through difficult situations that may be contributing to one’s depression or anxiety.
We certainly all have times in our lives when we are feeling sad or low, or are overly anxious about a situation, but usually, after a few days, we are back in sync and feeling fine. When one is suffering from depression, the lows persist, they can be intense, and the symptoms can affect every part of one’s daily life.
Depression may affect people in very different ways. Common symptoms include feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and guilt; tiredness, anger, and irritability: loss of interest in activities, and difficulties in sleeping and eating. Children also experience depressive symptoms in refusing to go to school, expressing great sadness when having to leave a parent or persistent thoughts that their parent may die; while adolescents may begin using substances, get into trouble at school or show marked irritability.
In Generalized Anxiety Disorder, people worry about their health, money, family problems even when there is no cause for worry; they believe that things will always go badly for them, and often have concerns about getting through the day. Their consumption with worrying often makes accomplishing everyday tasks impossible.
There are ways to help:
1. Get help: If you see yourself in the symptoms above, please reach out for assistance.
2. Provide hope: When a spouse, family member, or friend suffers from depression, support and encouragement can play a critical role in getting the help one needs. Gently noting a significant change in mood, expressing concern and offering help, and providing hope are all helpful responses.
3. Erase stigma: The shame and isolation often felt from mental health concerns is a primary barrier to people seeking professional care.
Here in Carroll, we are fortunate to have a community-wide campaign CARE (Carroll Anti-stigma Resilience Effort) established by the Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County to raise awareness, dispel myths, and more importantly, provide the tools and resources necessary so that we can all more comfortably connect and talk openly to friends, family, and coworkers about mental health supports.
Lynn Davis is the executive director of Carroll County Youth Service Bureau.