Oskaloosa.com

Local News

October 4, 2013

Addressing mental illness locally

OSKALOOSA —

Your heart races as you feel like the situation you're in is bringing on a heart attack.

But, realizing you're not alone can lay the path for understanding and recovery.

Mental health issues aren't the most comfortable topic of conversation for many people.

However, talking about these things is one step toward recovery from anxiety and depression disorders that impact more people than some may realize.

Mahaska Health Partnership recently hosted a mental health first aid workshop. Jan LeBahn, Director of Behavioral Health Services, said the workshop aimed to dispel the stigma of mental health issues, as well as provide tools and strategies for people to help manage someone through any type of mental health crisis. Much like traditional first aid, this workshop helped people to know what to do until professional care became available.

“We have a push to train for first aid/CPR in all professions,” said LeBahn, who then pointed to the importance of having mental health first aid knowledge widely available.

So, how common are mental illness symptoms?

LeBahn noted that one in four Americans will experience mental illness symptoms at any given point in their life.

People will go to a medical doctor to get check ups in a preventative capacity, explained LeBahn.

“Why wouldn't we want to take care of our mental health just as well as our physical health and just get that support to prevent something from escalating to symptoms that are more challenging to manage,” asked LeBahn rhetorically.

It should be noted that, just because someone is “feeling down,” that doesn't mean they are mentally ill, LeBahn said. It may be that this person simply needs to talk about what they're dealing with in life and gain some new tools and strategies for addressing these things, she said.

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