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Wear green for mental health awareness

Since 1949, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a time to educate the public about mental health as well as to assure that those who need mental health services receive the help they need.

Did you know that one in four Americans will suffer from a mental illness? As I was researching the topic, I learned that for every soldier who dies in combat, 25 die of suicide. I also learned that more people die of suicide than in traffic accidents or homicides! It’s time to ramp up awareness!

Because of stigma, lack of education and general denial of mental illness, only about one third of those who suffer from a mental illness receive treatment. Others turn to ineffective coping methods, resulting in substance abuse and addiction, broken relationships, broken homes, homelessness and suicide. To think many of these problems could be avoided with appropriate mental health care.

It is time for Americans to become aware of the problem and learn that mental health is for everyone. Watch for activities throughout the month of May. We encourage everyone to wear green on May 21 to increase awareness for mental health, and to help people learn that mental illness is treatable and recovery is possible. Wear green! — Sue Wilken, executive director, A Place to Belong, Detroit Lakes