Recognizing Mental Illness Awareness Week

Columbiana County Mental Health levy. oCT. 7, 2015
A yard sign promotes the Columbiana County Mental Health levy. This is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Oct. 7, 2015.

LISBON, Ohio (WKBN) – Millions of Americans live with mental health conditions. Each year, this week is set aside to raise awareness about mental illness.

The goal is to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care.

WKBN reporter and anchor Lauren Wood sat down with the executive director of the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board Kathie Chaffee to talk about the help and hope they offer and the importance of this awareness week.

Kathie: “Mental Illness Awareness Week was established in Congress in 1990 to recognize the efforts that the National Alliance on Mental Illness does in educating the public on mental illness.”

Lauren: “Why is that education so important?”

Kathie:” Most people don’t think about any illness until they have it or until a loved one of theirs has it. And unfortunately with mental illness there’s still somewhat of a stigma related to it. So, if people begin to have heart palpitations, they’re likely to go see their doctor. If they begin have mood problems, they may wait.”

Lauren: “Tell me about the services that you guys offer and help facilitate.”

Kathie: “Counseling, psychiatric treatment, those sorts of traditional services that most people associate with mental illness and recovery. But we also do preventative services. We do depression screenings in the high schools in Columbiana County. For adults, this is something that I think most people don’t know… But we work very closely with adults in helping them get employment.”

Lauren: “We are about a month away from the November election and there are some issues on the ballot that are going to be really important to you guys. Tell me about that.”

Kathie: “Columbiana County has a point 3 mill, 10 year renewal levy on the ballot. Mahoning county has a point 5 mill, five year renewal levy on the ballot. Neither of these levies will increase anybody’s taxes. And those levy dollars are used to support things like depression screenings in the schools, peer support, employment for people. We use those dollars with our state and federal dollars to try to prevent illnesses when we can and when we can’t to give people the best chance of recovery that we can give them.”

Lauren: “What’s the message for people if they think they might need help.”

Kathie: “The purpose of this week is to let people know that mental illnesses are common. One in four people in this country experience a mental illness every year. Mental illnesses are highly treatable, recovery rates are great, and a supportive community is important in order for people to get into the treatment and recovery services that they need.”

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