By mtjulietintern

Submitted to Mt. Juliet News
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto signs a proclamation that declares Mental Health Awareness Month in Wilson County with Will Voss and Marissa Pollard with Tennessee Voices for Children.

For nearly 70 years, May is annually recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month to help make the public better aware of the many issues associated with mental illness. 

Recently, Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto met with Nathan Miller, director of Cumberland Mental Health Center, an agency of Volunteer Behavioral Health, to discuss the importance of mental health needs and sign a proclamation that declared May as Mental Health Awareness Month in Wilson County.

“While a few may believe challenges with mental illness do not or will not affect them, they may be surprised to learn, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in every five adults in the U.S. must deal with a mental illness condition during their lifetime,” Miller said. “This means essentially 20 percent of the adults living in this local community will have some bout with mental illness during their lifetime.”

One main goal of May proclaimed as Mental Health Awareness Month, according to Hutto, is to make the public aware there are professionals available and accessible to come to the aid of those dealing with mental health issues.

Miller said at Cumberland Mental Health Center and at any of the other centers under the supervision of Volunteer Behavioral Health, a nonprofit organization with mental health centers in 31 Tennessee counties, there are professionals standing by to help individuals and families deal with mental health issues.

“Those suffering from issues associated with mental illness can be found in the workplace, among personal friendships, with immediate and distant family members and virtually in all circles of life where we are in contact with others,” said Miller.

Mental illness is a term that may be applied to a broad and diverse list of concerns, including depression, bipolar disorders, behavioral issues, suicide, addiction and others.

Miller said it is important to know and understand mental illness issues can be treated and help is as near as a local mental health center.

Matters related to mental illness for which Tennesseans should be aware include the fact that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide; addiction and substance abuse are considered mental health issues; 50 percent of all lifetime mental illness cases begin at 14 years old; and 60 percent of adults and 50 percent of youth 8-15 years old who suffer with mental illness did not receive treatment during the past year.

While much attention continues to be focused on suicide prevention in Tennessee, records produced by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network show each day in Tennessee an average of three people die by suicide.

As recently as 2016, suicide was still the second-leading cause of death in the state for young people 10-19 years old with one person lost to suicide in the age group each week.

For more information about services and treatments available for those who are dealing with mental health issues including addiction and substance abuse, visit vbhcs.org or call 877-567-6051.

Additionally, Wilson County will join more than 1,100 communities across the country May 10 to celebrate the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to highlight the importance of children’s mental health. This year, the national focus of Awareness Day is partnering for health and hope, following trauma.

Wilson County promotes access to the services and supports children, youth and young adults with mental or substance use disorders in the Middle Tennessee area to meet their goals at home, at school and in the community.

To celebrate Awareness Day locally, Hutto held a proclamation signing involving Tennessee Voices for Children, the TN Healthy Transitions Initiative and the System of Care Across Tennessee Initiative. Wilson County government will “shed light” on Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day on May 10 by lighting up the Wilson County Courthouse in green lights. The building will be illuminated throughout the night in honor of those who battle mental health disorders.

Staff Reports