May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Allie Prusa UWSC Marketing Director

As the old saying goes, April showers bring May flowers. But what if those storms never blew through? What if you were caught in a perpetual state of “storm”? For many people living with mental illness, this “storm” can be all encompassing, overwhelming, and unpredictable. United Way of Story County wants everyone to know that there is help and hope on the other side of that storm. This is an important reminder to give at this time, because May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. Supporting essential services for mental health is part of the work UWSC takes on as it leads the fight for health, education and financial stability for everyone in our community.

As of the last data, Story County respondents reported poor mental health on an average of 3.2 days out of 30. The impact of mental illness on individuals is something we can all empathize with. It is very likely that every person has seen the effects of mental illness on someone we know. Mental illness also impacts the vitality of our community as a whole. When people are healthy physically and mentally, communities can flourish.

UWSC’s Board of Directors has allocated more than $100,000 to support mental health services this year. This money is expended in various ways, including grants and ASSET funding. Partner agencies such as ACCESS, Eyerly Ball Community Mental Health Services, Lutheran Services in Iowa, NAMI Central Iowa and YSS are each actively working to ensure community members have access to mental health services, as is our medical community and Central Iowa Community Services Mental Health Disability Services Region.

UWSC is particularly excited to recognize two new solutions that are added services to our area. First, Mary Greeley Medical Center is partnering with Central Iowa Community Services and Story County to provide crisis stabilization services and transitional living center services in Ames with a targeted launch date of August 2018. Crisis stabilization services are generally accessed for up to five days to stabilize an acute mental health crisis. Transitional living center services provide a safe stable environment for individuals to care for their mental health and develop a plan to move into or return to a safe living environment that meets their needs.

A second example of a new community solution is Eyerly Ball Community Mental Health Services’ launch of a Mobile Crisis Response Team serving 11 counties in the CICS Mental Health Disability Services Region. The MCRT will respond to mental health related crisis calls and attempt to provide crisis intervention where face-to-face interaction would benefit the client, serving both children and adults.

CICS also provides a Central Iowa Crisis Line that provides support on the telephone for people looking for immediate help with their emotions or mental health, by calling 844-258-8858.

In addition to these two new services, UWSC continues to fund a mix of individual counseling and group support. United Way also partners with 2-1-1, an information and referral resource, which is a free and confidential service. If immediate resources are needed calling 2-1-1 can provide an array of local options.

It is important to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is always the goal. So where can we go from here? Moving forward, mental health is a conversation that needs to keep being brought to light. The message is important, the effects are real, and we all can be a part of the solution. Finding or offering help can be life-saving and that’s something the whole community can get behind.