The following was written by Elizabeth Allen, a health promotion coordinator, for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department blog:
At the Health Department, we support whole-person health: a healthy mind and body. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which gives us the opportunity to emphasize whole-person health in Pierce County.
You may have heard the phrase “mental health.” We prefer to use behavioral health, which includes how people think, feel, and act. People with good behavioral health can navigate life, have positive relationships, and adapt to change. Wellbeing is more than moments of sadness or happiness. It’s a lifetime of emotional and physical health. Wellbeing comes from your purpose, resiliency, and influences.
BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CHALLENGES ARE OBSTACLES TO WELLBEING
People you know will most likely face behavioral health challenges some time in their life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four Americans—our roughly 60 million people—live with mental illness. Half of lifetime behavioral health challenges begin by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24. That means many youth experience behavioral health challenges that continue into adulthood.
In 2017, 26 percent of Pierce County residents 18 and older said they had 1-13 days of poor mental health per month.
In 2018 on average, Pierce County residents reported 4 poor mental health days per month. The state average is 3.8 days per month. Twelve percent of Pierce County residents said they have frequent mental stress.
Young people in our county also experience behavioral challenges. According to the 2018 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, results from Pierce County 10th graders show:
- 27 percent considered attempting suicide in the past year.
- 22 percent said they made a suicide plan.
- 13 percent said they attempted suicide in the past year.
- 66 percent said they felt nervous or anxious in the past two weeks.
HOPE AND RECOVERY ARE POSSIBLE FOR ALL
When people experience stigma related to behavioral health concerns, they can feel lonely, isolated and hopeless. And that’s dangerous. People need to feel confident to ask for help so they can get the services they need when they need them.
Everyone deserves good behavioral health. And recovery from a mental health concern or challenge can happen for everyone. It takes hope and supportive systems like family, friends, and community.
HOW YOU CAN ADVOCATE FOR GOOD BEHAVIORAL HEALTH
No one should have to suffer in silence. If you or someone you know need immediate help, connect with these emergency resources:
- In case of a life-threatening emergency—911.
- Crisis text line—741741.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—(800) 273-8255.
Exercise and good nutrition promote good physical health. Be sure to do the same for your behavioral health through things like your social connections and stress management. Learn more about behavioral health and find other resources at www.tpchd.org/behavioralhealth.