Placer County raising awareness of mental health issues | SierraSun.com

Placer County raising awareness of mental health issues

Special to the Sun

Green awareness ribbon

TAHOE, Calif. — At its May 20 meeting the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a proclamation declaring May 2014 Mental Health Month in Placer County. The proclamation highlighted the importance of raising awareness and overcoming the stigma of mental health issues in order to ensure that assistance is provided to those who need it.

Maureen Bauman, director of Placer County's Adult System of Care, presented the proclamation to the Board and shared information on programs offered by Placer County to address the mental health needs of its citizens, including suicide prevention programs; Mental Health First Aid, a program that teaches people to respond and get help for a loved one or friend experiencing a mental health crisis; and outreach programs aimed at bringing knowledge and acceptance of mental illnesses out into the open.

REDUCING STIGMA

"We really want people to reduce stigmas so that those who are suffering feel comfortable reaching out for help," Maureen Baumann said. "It is often the stigma associated with mental health issues that prevents people from getting help much more than a lack of resources."

The County is also participating in the "Each Mind Matters" campaign, which seeks to put mental health issues "in the limelight" by distributing lime green ribbons for people to wear.

"When you wear your ribbon, it gives you an opportunity to share with people the importance of addressing mental health issues," Maureen Baumann said.

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In addition to improving the lives of those who suffer with mental health issues and their loved ones, addressing the mental health in the same manner physical health is addressed saves money for the community and reduces the amount of pain and suffering caused by the struggles that go along with mental health issues.

District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes, who sits on the Placer County Mental Health Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board, said that he was pleased to find that a recent call for members to that board resulted in seven new applicants.

INTERVENTION AND TREATMENT

"I think the stereotypes around mental health illness are beginning to dissipate, and more and more people are interested in getting involved to address these issues," Supervisor Holmes said. "We don't have to go very far in the range of people in our lives to find someone who suffers from some form of mental illness."

According to Maureen Baumann, nearly 61,000 residents of Placer County will experience diagnosable mental health disorders in any given year and nearly 40,000 in Placer County will experience mental health disorders in their lifetime.

Just as Americans have learned there are things they can do to reduce their risk of heart disease and other illnesses, Placer County wants to help people learn to protect their mental health in tough times and improve their mental well-being throughout their lives. With early intervention and effective treatment, the proclamation states, those individuals suffering with mental health conditions can lead full, productive lives.

For more information on the programs and services offered by Placer County visit the Adult and Children's Systems of Care websites at http://www.placer.ca.gov/browse/health/adult and http://www.placer.ca.gov/browse/health/children or call toll-free 888-886-5401.

For information about the Mental Health Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board call 530-889-7256.