Mental health is as important as physical

Published 12:01 am Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mental health is often overlooked, but this week, mental health agencies are bringing about awarenes by celebrating mental health awareness week. | Courtesy photo

Oftentimes, there is such a focus on one’s physical well being that one’s mental health is overlooked.

This week, mental health agencies across the nation – including the South Central Mental Health Board located in Andalusia – hopes to bring awareness to the issue by celebrating mental health awareness week.

“In our opinion, every week should be mental health week,” said Tommy Wright, SCAMHB clinical director.

Wright said mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning.

“Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life,” he said.

At SCAMHB, residents from Covington, Crenshaw, Butler and Coffee counties – including children age 1 and up – are given treatment options to help deal with all types of mental illness. The agency offers onsite counseling and therapy sessions and residential programs, as well as a substance abuse program and services for the intellectually disabled.

“We even have what we call a helpline that people can call if they just need someone to talk to and don’t know where to turn,” Wright said. “You can think of us as the place to go when you don’t know where to turn. We can help with assessments to determine what kind of treatment is need or we can be a friendly ear.”

Wright said the board focuses on treating serious mental illnesses such as major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder.

“The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible,” he said. “Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. The people we treat here are the same people you go to church with, that you shop with, that you see at school. You can’t tell the difference between the people we see and people in general. By large, with medication, these conditions are treatable and those who are affected can live normal lives.”

To reach the SCAMHB’s helpline, call 334-222-7794. It is staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

“We’re here to help,” Wright said.