Mental health month recognized

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 7, 2010

May has been recognized as “Mental Health” month in the hopes that proper education can remove some of the “stigma” associated with mental illness.
“Stigma is not just a matter of using the incorrect word or action,” said Diane Baugher, executive director of the South Central Mental Health Board, located in Andalusia. “Stigma is about disrespect and the use of negative labels to identify a person living with mental illness. Fear of stigma and the resulting discrimination, discourages individuals and their families from getting the help they need.”
Statistics show an estimated 44 million Americans experience a mental disorder in any given year, and almost half of those do not seek treatment, Baugher said.
“And that’s not right,” she said. “You know you have some people who would rather tell their employers they committed a petty crime and served time in jail, than admitting to being admitted to a psychiatric hospital?
“We need to work to stop that,” she said.
Which is why each year in May, a spot light is shined on the issue, to bring about awareness of mental issues.
At the SCAMHB, those suffering from mental illness – and their families – can find a wealth of benefits from crisis intervention and therapy to a therapeutic group home.
“And right here in Covington County,” Baugher said. “We offer not only adult services, but also services for children suffering from mental illness.”
Baugher also said the center provides a crisis intervention hotline for “immediate issues:” 1-877-530-0002 or 334-222-7794 after hours.
“It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of common mental illnesses, which can range from depression, anxiety disorders to substance abuse disorders,” she said. “And it’s important to seek treatment, and we’re here to help.”
The local mental health office is located off Alabama 55 and can be reached by calling 334-222-2525.