KGNU is partnering with the League of Women Voters of Boulder County on a monthly commentary series called Making Democracy Work for All! which focuses on educating listeners on the workings of state and local government and letting them know how they can get involved at different stages of the political process. This month Mary Anna Dunn, Health Care Team Leader for the League of Women Voters of Boulder County, shares some thoughts about mental wellness.
Imagine this: The person you live with has been more and more withdrawn recently. It’s hard to get her out of bed in the morning, and she’s not eating regular meals. She seems to be skipping work and her mood is sad, or maybe sullen. There’s just no energy to help at home or to go out and do things. It’s no fun to live with her, and in fact it’s getting worrisome. Or does this describe your teenage son or daughter? Or your spouse? Or parent?
These behaviors are some of the symptoms of depression, the second most common type of behavioral health disorder—or mental illness, to use a more familiar term. Should someone behaving this way —or feeling this way—seek help? Yes! Will they? Perhaps not, unless a friend or family member urges them to or helps them find it.
If we look at numbers, we learn that 1 in 5 of us will suffer some type of behavioral health episode this year. When we think of mental illness, we may picture acute situations – alarming behavior, suicides, addiction. All are under the umbrella, but more commonly we suffer rather quietly. Anxiety disorder is the most common illness, but I mention depression because that’s what runs in my family.
Lots of people don’t talk about mental sufferings, because of stigma—that is, feeling ashamed or not wanting the world to know about this “weakness.” That is old time thinking! Guess what – it’s not a weakness, it’s an illness. So is bronchitis. A mental illness is a condition. As is arthritis. It’s OK to talk with people about it. And help is available, as it is for bronchitis or arthritis.
Help comes in the form of therapy, medication, support groups. Finding help can start with one’s regular doctor. He or she can help with links to the right resources. Also, in Colorado we have statewide Crisis Services, available to anyone needing help or anyone worried about how to help a friend or loved one. A phone call reaches immediate, confidential support—every day, 24/7. Colorado Crisis Services also offers walk-in centers, open 24/7 around the state. The phone number is 1-844-493-TALK. It doesn’t have to be a crisis. This is a starting point. That’s 1-844-493-8255. Or text TALK to 38255.
For more information go online to lwvbc.org and click on the Teams at Work, then Health Care. You can help. You can get help.