Tammie Colon: Empowering mental health in our community

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties is joining others nationwide to raise awareness and empower action in our communities.

Mental health is an integral part of overall health. This month is a focused time to reduce stigma, connect individuals with local resources and foster community support.

Stigma is the negative attitude toward specific traits, circumstances or health symptoms. This can look like the mistaken belief that mental health disorders are a sign of personal weakness or family disapproval of medication and counseling.

In reality, one in five U.S. adults live with mental illness. Many factors contribute to mental health conditions, including biological factors, life experiences and family history of mental health conditions. People with mental health conditions can get better with support.

Mental health stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need, leading to increased suffering and isolation. By raising awareness and showing widespread support for mental health, we create communities where individuals feel comfortable seeking help.

This May marks the fourth year the MHRSB is hosting “Be Seen With Green,” an international awareness effort to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month. The board has customized this initiative locally to help our communities show their green in any way they choose. Community members can show their support for mental health awareness and spark important conversations.

I hope that some day, all our communities will be seen with green together. We’ll all be aware that there are people who care, that struggling is okay and that you need to reach out for help or to help someone else.

This type of awareness works. Wear your Be Seen With Green T-shirt, sweatshirt or tie. Show your support with green light bulbs at your home or workplace. Display green window clings in your school or church. If you would like a T-shirt or MHRSB-provided green lightbulb or window cling, contact the MHRSB office at 419-222-5120.

Awareness is the first step. Connecting individuals with local resources is equally important.

Knowing where to start when seeking help can be a challenge. Mental Health America has released its annual toolkit for this year’s theme, “Where to Start: Mental Health in a Change World.” The toolkit has resources and ways to take action to protect one’s well-being. It can be downloaded at mhanational.org/may.

The MHRSB is your hub for local recovery-based care. We fund a wide range of support services, including prevention programs, treatment options, and pathways to recovery.

Call 211 or visit allen211.org to get started locally. 211 will help connect you to local resources, including MHRSB-funded services.

Anyone in crisis can call the 24/7 local Hopeline at 1-800-567-HOPE (4673) or 988.

Since 1968, the board has been dedicated to the residents of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin counties. Over the past five decades, we’ve adapted our services to better meet the needs of those we serve. In light of these developments and our ongoing dedication to behavioral health, it was time to redefine our identity.

I am excited to share that the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties has a new look and renewed mission.

Though the board’s appearance has changed, our commitment to serving residents remains steadfast. The MHRSB is dedicated to empowering our community with the knowledge, resources, and support for a successful path to recovery.

To learn more about the MHRSB and the services we fund, visit wecarepeople.org or mhrsb.org. You can also connect with MHRSB on social media. Our office is located at 528 W. Market Street, Lima, OH 45801.

Together, we can raise awareness and ensure that no one has to face mental health challenges alone.

Tammie Colon is executive Director of Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties. Her column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.