News & Press
Community Wellness: Mental illness: How community members can assist, support their neighbors
By Leah Quintanilla, Access Therapist
Ionia County Community Mental Health
Posted May. 16, 2015 at 12:07 AM
Anyone can be affected by mental illness. Anyone and anywhere.
No matter your gender, your age, your race, your socioeconomic status or your cultural background, you – or someone you know – could be struggling with mental illness right now.
What is mental illness?
Mental health problems are health conditions. They involve changes in thinking, mood, and/or behavior, and they cause distress or impair the functioning of the person experiencing them. Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, eating disorders, substance abuse, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are just a few of the many types of mental illnesses.
While there is often a stigma attached to mental illness, the truth is: just as someone with a medical condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure, needs intervention and ongoing medical care to manage their disease, a person with mental health issues needs treatment to manage their symptoms and move them toward recovery.
When people are able to open their minds and hearts to what individuals with mental illness or addiction struggle with on a daily basis, they tend to become more open and willing to help. Early intervention is so important when it comes to assisting individuals with mental health issues. It can help a person recognize a problem within themselves more quickly, which can prompt them to seek professional help at an earlier stage of their illness. Ultimately, this could save someone's life and, at the very least, increase the likelihood that they will start down a path toward mental wellness.
Would you be able to recognize if someone were struggling with mental health issues? Would you feel confident in knowing how to intervene and connect them with a professional who could help them?
‘Mental Health First Aid’ training can help
At the end of the month, Ionia County Community Mental Health is offering a two-day training called “Mental Health First Aid” to help community members and professionals understand what mental illness is; learn how to better recognize signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental illnesses and addictions; know how to appropriately intervene to get the person connected with various types of professional and self-help resources; and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness. “Mental Health First Aid” program participants have increased confidence in helping – and a higher likelihood of helping – an individual in distress. They also show increased mental wellness themselves.
The “Mental Health First Aid” training will be held Thursday, May 28, and Friday, May 29, from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Ionia County Community Mental Health, 375 Apple Tree Drive, in Ionia. A continental breakfast and registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. on both days. Lunch will be provided. The fee to attend is $85, but can be waived for Ionia County residents and professionals. Social Work and MCBAP CEUs are available.
Contact Leah Quintanilla at 616-527-1790 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to register.
If you or someone you know is currently struggling with mental health issues, we would be happy to help you get connected with appropriate supports and services. If you would like more information or would like to request services, call Ionia County Community Mental Health at 616-527-1790. In case of a mental health crisis, call our 24-hour toll-free crisis line at 1-888-527-1790.
Leah Quintanilla is a Licensed Master's level Social Worker and a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Quintanilla currently works as an Access Therapist at Ionia County Community Mental Health. She has more than 13 years of experience working in the mental health field and has been a certified instructor for Mental Health First Aid since October 2013.