May Marks 70 Years of Mental Health Awareness

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Mary Jane Ostrander, Human Services Division Manager | Carson City Health and Human Services

May is Mental Health Month, which started 70 years ago by Mental Health America (MHA), to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone.  This year, MHA is expanding upon last year’s theme of 4Mind4Body.  Visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may for resources on animal companionship, spiritualty and religion, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness. 

When you hear the terms psychotic or psychotic break, what do you think about?  Do the terms carry a negative meaning? Myth:  A person with psychotic symptoms is dangerous.  Fact:  People experiencing psychosis may behave strangely, they may hear voices, or see things that do not exist.  They may be frightened and confused or withdrawn.  However, it is more likely these people will harm themselves than someone else.  Early treatment is important for persons with psychotic symptoms. 

The word psychosis is used to describe conditions that affect the mind; some loss of contact with reality.  Psychosis often begins when a person is in their late teens to mid-twenties.  Three out of 100 people will experience psychosis at some time in their lives.  About 100,000 adolescents and young adult in the US experience first episode psychosis each year.  This may include hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, or disordered thoughts and speech. 

Psychosis can be treated and early treatment increases the chance of a successful recovery.  Research supports a variety of treatments for first episode psychosis, combined with coordinated specialty care:  Individual or group psychotherapy based on cognitive behavior therapy; Family support and education teaches family members about psychosis, coping, communication, and problem-solving skills.  Medications help reduce psychosis symptoms; Supported Employment/Education services to help a person return to work or school; and Case Management to help with problem solving.  It is important to find a mental health professional who is trained in psychosis treatment and who makes the client feel comfortable.

Statewide efforts are taking place to address the mental health crisis throughout the State of Nevada.  There are four Behavior Health Coordinators, appointed by the Governor, who serve throughout Nevada to assist communities in developing collaborative partnerships to address the needs in each community.  The Carson City Behavioral Health Taskforce came together in February 2015 and has been meeting monthly to address the barriers and gaps related to Mental Health in Carson City. 

There are numerous successes regarding mental health in the Carson City area. These include:

  • The opening of Carson Tahoe Mallory Center, a mental health crisis center; 
  • Carson City schools actively addressing mental health awareness and early response with our children;
  • Success with the Mobile Outreach Safety Team (MOST) with jail diversion; 
  • Numerous agencies offering their staff innovative crisis intervention training;
  • Discharge planning efforts for smooth transitions into the community; and
  • The development of a mental health triage systems that aligns with best practices to ensure accurate referrals and early treatment is available and accessible. 

The mental health of our residents is important to Carson City Health and Human Services and the Carson City Behavioral Task Force. For additional resources and information about our Department programs and services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org,  “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cchhs, follow us on Twitter @CCHealthEd, call us at (775) 887-2190, or visit us at 900 East Long Street in Carson City.