In support of Mental Health Month, which began May 1, Managed Health Network, Inc. (MHN), a subsidiary of Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT), today announced its support of the national Stamp Out Stigma campaign. The campaign, launched by the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness (ABHW), is intended to change perceptions and reduce the stigma of mental illness. “You just can’t separate mental and physical health,” said Steve Blake, MHN’s vice president of Clinical Services. According to the ABHW, one in four adults in America will experience a mental illness in any given year. Despite this high incidence, those experiencing mental health issues often are stigmatized leaving many afraid to talk about their experiences or seek help. “Fortunately, as a result of the Mental Health Parity Act and the Affordable Care Act, more people are gaining access to quality behavioral health services,” said Blake. “The next step is building awareness so that people will access the help they need. The Stamp Out Stigma campaign is a great step in that direction.” Campaign Goals According to the ABHW, the goals of the Stamp Out Stigma campaign include:
- increasing awareness regarding the prevalence of mental illness;
- sharing factual information about mental illness; and
- reducing the stigma of mental illness.
According to Blake, “Many people have mental health concerns from time to time, but a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect a person’s ability to function.” A mental illness can negatively impact an individual’s ability to navigate daily life, such as being able to hold a job or maintain relationships. In many cases, mental illness symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and counseling.Recognizing Mental Illness As Blake points out, “We all have bad days, so it can be hard to tell when you or someone you love could benefit from professional help. Pay attention to symptoms that are persistent and that prevent you from functioning normally. Some problems – like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia – are more noticeable to others than to the person affected. That’s why it’s important to listen when someone you trust suggests you need help.” Symptoms of mental illness may include:
- feeling sad or down;
- confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate;
- excessive fears or worries;
- extreme mood changes;
- withdrawal from friends and activities previously enjoyed;
- significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping;
- detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations;
- inability to cope with daily problems;
- extreme feelings of guilt;
- alcohol or drug abuse;
- marked changes in eating habits;
- sex drive changes;
- excessive anger, hostility or violence; and
- suicidal thoughts.
Suicidal thoughts are common with some mental illnesses, and Blake advises anyone contemplating suicide to get help right away. Some options include:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately;
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line;
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one; or
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
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