OKEECHOBEE – At their May 11 meeting, the Okeechobee County Commissioners proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month at the request of Our Village, 211 Helpline and Suncoast Mental Health.
“There’s a growing mental health crisis in our country and our community that is significantly impacting youth,” said Tracy Hernandez of Suncoast Mental Health. She said one in four adults and one in five children need mental health services at some point. Sadly, more than half of those who need mental health services do not receive them.
“None of us can do this alone,” said Jess Olney, representing Our Village. She said Leah Suarez encourages everyone to help do whatever it takes to make sure our children have a safe and healthy environment.
Mental health care is available, said Chad Adcock with 211 Helpline. He encouraged anyone who is struggling with mental health issues to call 211 or 988.
“The area that someone lives in plays a significant role in their overall health and well-being; and mental health and substance use conditions affect individuals, families, and communities across Okeechobee County, Florida, and the nation,” states the proclamation.
“Surroundings can impact if, how, and when a person’s needs are met, which in turn affects mental health; and good mental health is a key component in a child’s healthy development.
“It is imperative that a visible, united effort by community members be launched and sustained to prevent substance use and promote mental wellness,” the proclamation continues.
“Each business, school, government agency, health care provider, organization, and citizen share the burden and accountability for the community’s mental health needs and has a responsibility to promote mental wellness and support prevention efforts.
“Open dialogue is an essential component to fight stigma and encourage those who might benefit from services to seek help; and there is a need for access to comprehensive services that are family-driven, youth guided, culturally and linguistically competent, and community based; they also benefit from the integration of behavioral health in primary care, education, and child welfare.
“Promoting mental health and wellness leads to higher overall productivity, better educational outcomes, lower crime rates, stronger economies, lower health care costs, improved family life, improved quality of life and increased lifespan.
“Okeechobee County, recognizes the impact of awareness and education, access to services, and acceptance of the importance of mental health and well-being to a person’s overall success and supports the implementation of trauma informed approaches throughout the systems of care.”