Transitions kicks off Mental Health Month

May 1, 2017 | By Matt Hopf

Mike Rein made sure to crack some jokes about the windy and rainy conditions Monday morning, but the executive director of Transitions of Western Illinois also expressed the importance of Mental Health Month.

“It’s a time for us to remind the community and all of our citizens the importance of mental health services and encourage people to recognize the symptoms of mental illness and encourage their friends to seek treatments if they identify them,” Rein said.

Transitions kicked off Mental Health Month, which is in its 68th year nationally and 62nd year locally, with a celebration that included the release of green balloons.

A mental health disorder affects about 44 million Americans each year.

Barb Baker Chapin, director of development at Transitions, said mental health treatment is effective, though very few people seek treatment.

“The treatment for mental health problems is very successful, and for that reason we urge people to reach out to others when they or a loved one are struggling with a mental health problem,” Baker Chapin said.

Rein said that despite efforts locally and nationally, there remains a stigma at times when discussing mental health.

“One of the things you’ve got to do with stigma is talk about it,” he said. “You’ve got to talk about the illness. You’ve got to talk about the symptoms. You’ve got to talk about the treatment.”SClBTransitions provides mental health services to almost 9,000 area residents each year.

This year’s theme of Mental Health Month is “Risky Business” to highlight the importance of behaviors and habits that can be unhealthy and an indication of a mental health problem.

Some of the first signs of a problem can include drug and alcohol use, excessive spending, disordered exercise patterns and obsessive internet use.

“As a society we have increasingly realized that mental health is a vital part of overall health and well-being,” Baker Chapin said. “We know that our mental health and physical health are very much intertwined, and today in our country we are seeing health care focus on the integration of physical health and behavioral health. This is good news.”

She also highlighted the importance of positive mental health as essential to a child’s healthy development.

While 1 in 5 children in the U.S. suffer from a health disorder, about half of them do not receive the treatment they need.