Originally Published: May 11, 2016 6:01 a.m.
For more information about Mental Health Awareness Month, visit the Mental Health America website: wwwmentalhealthamerica.net/may
PRESCOTT – May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this year the theme is “Life With a Mental Illness.”
Mental Health America is calling on people across the country to share their mental health journeys, to offer insight in their own words. They have asked people to share their words, pictures and video through social media posts with the hash tag #mentalillnessfeelslike. People may also feel free to anonymously forward their thoughts to the organization.
The whole purpose of this exercise is to not only promote general awareness, but to help those who may be struggling recognize they are not alone.
“Sharing is the key to breaking down negative attitudes and misperceptions surrounding mental illnesses, and to show others that they are not alone in their feelings and their symptoms,” reads information on the MHA website.
MHA started this monthlong observance back in 1949.
On a local level, West Yavapai Guidance Clinic is in its fourth year of observing this educational and awareness month with a series of activities intended to spotlight mental illness so as to promote more understanding and compassion for those who struggle with ailments that can range from depression to schizophrenia.
West Yavapai officials are proud to be part of this campaign to enlighten the public so as to dispel the stigma so often attached to such illness.
“This month is a public way to remind our community to talk about mental health issues,” said West Yavapai Development Coordinator Tina Blake. “Mental illness and substance abuse affects 1 out of 4 people in the United States, therefore, if someone in your family does not struggle with mental illness your neighbor’s family does.”
The clinic’s events are all about dispelling myths and highlighting the real people behind the diagnoses.
“I encourage everyone to talk about it more and provide a safe and positive environment for others to share. The events this month are intended to provide that opportunity.”
WYGC Mental Health Awareness Month activities
All West Yavapai Guidance Clinic Mental Health Awareness Month activities are free and open to the public.
May 1-May 20: The third annual Coloring Contest for Children, a collaboration between WYGC, The Daily Courier and the Prescott Gateway Mall. The coloring sheets can be downloaded at http:///couriercontest.com and can be turned in either to the newspaper office or the mall. Prizes will be awarded in three age ranges with cash and prizes from area businesses.
May 12: A screening of the film, “Unsound” by Arizona writer and director Darius Britt from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Davis Learning Center. This provocative film is Britt’s autobiographical account of coping with his mother’s worsening mental illness, and his fears related to how to help her cope with her illness even as he works to reclaim his own life.
“Unsound” was the winner of the Best Arizona Film of the Year at the 2014 Prescott Film Festival; winner of the Best Arizona Feature Film at the 2015 Phoenix Film Festival and Winner of the Best Humanitarian Film at the 2015 Sedona Film Festival.
After the film, there will be a discussion with the director and local mental health experts.
The university is located at 3700 Willow Creek Road.
May 18: A presentation titled “Prescription Medicine and the Older Adult” will be presented by WYGC Senior Peer Prevention Program Director Terri Roza. The presentation will be from 11 a.m. to noon at the Good Samaritan Village Towers, 1075 Ruth St.
May 19: Clinic officials will conduct a Mental Health First Aid program from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Prescott Valley.
Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based program which uses role playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis, select interventions and provide initial help. The training also addresses the risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and substance use disorders. These classes are free and designed to assist family members, first responders and anyone else who wants to better understand mental illness and how to help people suffering from various disorders.
Space is limited so reservations are required. To make one, contact Clinic Chief Development & Communication Officer Laura Norman at 928-445-5211, ext. 3615, or email L.Norman@wygc.org
May 22: The Celebrate Life Expo Fair from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Prescott Gateway Mall. This is a health fair where clinic officials will be on hand to answer questions and provide information on what they have to offer in the community. For more information about West Yavapai Guidance Clinic, visit the website at www.wygc.org.