Vermont – Last week was National Mental Illness Awareness Week, and throughout the week, clubs affiliated with the South Central Community Initiative (SCCBI) promoted a series of daily activities aimed at improving mental well-being and psychological awareness. illness. This included the Upward Bound 5th Street Express, a no-reservation resource center in Vermont for adults with mental illness.
Alex Langsjoen, SCCBI Regional Health Director and Upward Bound Clubhouse Coordinator Darek Olson, highlighted the importance of recognizing mental illness in order to treat it effectively.
“It is okay to ask for help because there are people everywhere; there are neighbors and family members and there are friends.” Languen said.
“Mental health … affects everyone to one degree or another; it affects some people more than others, and there are things we can do to improve our mental health and make it easier for people with various forms of mental illness,” Olson said.
According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five adults has a mental illness and 5.6 percent of adults have a serious mental illness that leads to serious functional disabilities.
“It is similar to a physical disability. They are not defined by that, you are not defined by your ability or disability to do something,” Languen said.
At Upward Bound Olson he works to connect people living with illness with the right support, both inside and outside the organization. Upward Bound provides a place for people with mental illness to meet other people with similar challenges and participate in programs that can improve their well-being.
“People know they can get off and that this is a safe place to get support,” Olson said.
“It is better than sitting at home and lodging and thinking about things. If we come down here, we can do things to take our minds off of it for a while.” said Gloria Olson, a member of Upward Pound.
Most of the activities hosted by Upward Bound at Mental Illness Awareness Week focused on a different area of personal wellness such as exercising regularly or de-cluttering the workspace.
“These are things everyone should do, but it’s a way to target a specific thing to deal with every day to help improve their mental health in the long run,” Olson said.
Other activities on the Upward Bound’s October calendar include game and craft evenings and a shopping trip to Mankato. In addition to these activities, Upward Bound has other resources available to members such as computers and an entertainment room.
“There are many members who, before coming to the development center, did not have many friends, but were able to make friends and build a support system,” Olson said.
When someone is looking for help with mental health, Languen recommended contacting county health agencies first.
“They are mental health authorities across the state of Minnesota. It is a safety net for people who cannot find care or coverage,” Languen said.
If county health agencies cannot provide appropriate assistance to people with mental illness, they can make referrals to organizations that can.