Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness month, yet many in Central Florida don’t realize there is a free resource available 24/7 that offers solutions to a range of mental health issues: the 2-1-1 Information and Assistance Helpline. Via call, text or chat, clients are able to connect with a 2-1-1 specialist who has undergone hours of training to help individuals deal with some of the most daunting issues facing our community.
While most of the contacts 2-1-1 receives are those needing financial assistance with their rent, clients reach out daily seeking mental health assistance. From substance abuse treatment to suicide prevention, 2-1-1 specialists are trained to help clients cope with it all. According to the April 2-1-1 report, over 200 suicide intervention calls were received last month alone.
Mental Health Stigmas and Care
“There’s a stigma surrounding mental health,” said Caree Jewell, director of 2-1-1. “It’s easy for people to think that physical and mental health are two different things, but they really are the same thing: your health. Our society tends to believe that mental health problems are a personal failure. But there are physical causes beyond a person’s control that create mental health issues.”
When left untreated and ignored, a manageable mental health issue can spiral into bigger, more complex problems. For some, not having access to mental health care forces them to begin self-medicating, leading to substance abuse addiction which in turn can lead to job loss, homelessness or worse. Often times, insurance will not cover treatment for mental care or put a limit on the amount of treatments a person can seek.
To add to the problem, the community does not have the capacity to offer affordable mental health services. While there are many community health centers across Central Florida, there are only a small handful that are equipped to help with mental health care.
Advocate for Change
The first step in creating change is to bring awareness to the issue. “I always tell people that if they want to help, they need to tell 3 people they know about 2-1-1,” Caree said. “The more members of our community who know about us, the more people who can get the help they need.”
To advocate for mental health awareness in May and beyond, share this page on Facebook and Twitter with the links below. Keep informed of the work 2-1-1 does in our community by signing up for the monthly 2-1-1 Report.