Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month

In recognition of Mental Health awareness month Bath Community Hospital Social worker, Pari Baker spoke to Seniors at the Senior Center, and to the general public at the Bath Public Library. Her presentation began with statistics that show prevalence of mental illness.

“Forty-three point eight million adults experience a mental illness in a year, so that’s one in five adults have a serious mental illness that would be considered border line or bi-polar disorder, more of your personality disorders. This statistic is more of your anxiety or depression, the things that are serious, but don’t carry quite as much stigma. One half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of fourteen, and then three-quarters by the age of twenty- four.”

After noting symptoms which help clinicians and health care workers recognize some of these illnesses, Pari continued.

“Anxiety disorders are the most common metal illness in the United States. They are highly treatable, but not even forty percent of those suffering form anxiety actually get treatment for it. SO, here we are all living with something that we are ot actually willing to go get help on.”

Later in Pari’s presentation she listed willingness to look for and accept help as one of the major factors in Resilliency, or ability to cope, and receive treatment for illnesses.

“Women are twice as likely to suffer from generalized anxiety; and it’s not uncommon for some one with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression. They kind of go hand in hand.”

While Pari offered equally as essential information about how to screen, and find treatment for these mental illnesses, the statistics continue to point to the importance of our own awareness.

“Forty-two million adults in America live with anxiety disorder. I think that’s a huge portion of the population. It always stuns me to see that, just out there, that so many of us are living with it, and half of us probably really have no idea that anyone else is affected the way that we are.

If we think back to how many people in this country have and suffer from these mental illnesses and don’t get any help, what can we do about that number? How much lower could the percent be, if we actually sought help, and went beyond the stigma of ‘I’m not going to talk to anybody about this; I’m just going to suffer through alone.”

She pointed out resistance towards seeking help, and accessibility to mental health services depend a lot on demographics as well.

“In terms of diversity, African American, and Hispanic Americans use mental health services about half the rate of Caucasians, so we’re really trying to reach a more diverse population.” And even by just skimming the list of services in the Allegheny Highlands, it’s easy to see significant travel for treatment, and ongoing support are a given.

In a later news segment on this Mental Health Awareness month presentation, Pari Baker, Liscensed clinical social worker, includes an introduction to a questionnaire used by professionals to screen for high risks of mental illness, and also a survey that identifies strengths, and positive experiences that can counteract the effects of trauma. For a list of resources available to anyone seeking more information on mental illnesses, please contact Pari Baker at Bath Community Hospital.

For AMR . . .

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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