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Published on May 29, 2019
Did you know that mental illness is as common as dark brown eyes, more common than lefties, as common as silver cars and more common than diabetes? Yet, we still struggle with talking about it compared to a physical illness. Mental illnesses are treatable health conditions.
Throughout the year, Essentia Health-Fosston works to encourage discussions about mental health among both patients and staff. For example, during suicide prevention awareness week, Essentia Health-Fosston had a booth in their lobby to make the community aware that it is okay to have a mental illness. Patients were encouraged to review literature and programs available pertaining to mental illness. Many patients wrote what mental health means to them and placed a bookmark on a nearby wishing tree.
Another example is Essentia Health’s participation in the Make It OK campaign. The goal of this campaign is to encourage individuals to talk openly about mental illnesses and help de-stigmatize mental illness, so people will be more willing to seek out the care they need. Anyone can take the pledge to make it OK. Visit makeitok.org to learn more.
Essentia Health-Fosston has also worked to partner with police officers in the community to present information on mental illness. Licensed Social Worker, Carrie Danielson, has presented to police officers on how to transform our nation’s traditional approach and treatment of mental illness through education, training and collaboration. Police officers have become the front-line respondents to people with severe mental illness. Danielson says, “People with mental illness are falling through the cracks of this country’s social safety net and landing in the criminal justice system at an alarming rate.” Each year, ten million people are booked into U.S. jails. Studies indicate that rates of serious mental illness among these individuals are at least 30 to 40 times higher than the rates of serious mental illness in the general population.
It takes all of us to stop the stigma and start talking about mental illness. Essentia Health encourages anyone dealing with mental illness or substance abuse to visit with a provider to learn about treatment options or available help.