October 6, 2022

Stigma of seeking mental health help discourages many people

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Proper intervention during stressful times can prevent that stress from growing into a significant mental health challenge.

Lori Criss is director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Aimee Shadwick is interim director of RecoveryOhio.

We recognize that the challenges we’ve faced have made us more aware of how important it is to take care of our own mental health and to consider the mental health of others.

And we’re proud of the commitment the DeWine administration has made to supporting mental health and substance use treatment for all Ohioans who need it, starting with the creation of RecoveryOhio.

More:‘These are illnesses’: Ad campaign aims to reduce stigma around addiction, mental illness

This initiative coordinates and manages prevention, interdiction, treatment, and long-term recovery supports across the government.

Last month, Gov. Mike DeWine announced $169 million in investments to strengthen our behavioral health services system.

We plan to invest $85 million toward building the behavioral health work force we need, with paid internship and scholarship opportunities for students seeking related degrees and credentials at Ohio’s colleges and universities.

We are investing another $84 million in the Pediatric Behavioral Health Initiative to increase capacity and access to care for kids and their families across the state.

Stress is a normal reaction to life challenges. How it is managed can determine whether it becomes debilitating.

More:Parents have given up custody to get care for children with severe needs. Ohio Medicaid is closer to ending that

This capacity-building investment comes on top of the significant resources already in place for people struggling with substance use disorder or mental health conditions:

  • In 2019, we launched the Student Wellness and Success program, with $1.2 billion set aside help schools address students’ social and emotional needs.
  •  A $69 million investment supports the development of local crisis systems to expand crisis stabilization services for Ohioans who show signs of mental illness or addiction.
Lori Criss is the director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

Even with all this, the need for even greater awareness and more resources to address mental health challenges is immense. At the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and RecoveryOhio, we’re talking a lot lately about a tool everyone can use to help themselves and others. It’s called Stress First Aid, and just as CPR can save a person experiencing a heart attack, the right intervention in a moment of stress can prevent that stress from growing into a significant mental health challenge.

Aimee Shadwick is interim director of RecoveryOhio.

It’s important to recognize that stress is a normal human reaction to life challenges. It’s how we manage it that determines whether it becomes debilitating. When stress is intense or prolonged, its physical and emotional responses can become harmful.

More:Reducing stress is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Here are tips to help

Practicing Stress First Aid can help anyone recognize and defuse stress in themselves and do the same for others. A 30-minute presentation, which you can download at https://bit.ly/3t5MLlP, provides a thorough grounding in the basics.

In the workplace, Stress First Aid gives colleagues a common language for talking about stress. By encouraging all to recognize and address stress, it reduces stigma around mental health challenges.

When stress is intense or prolonged, its physical and emotional responses can become harmful.

It’s meant to be adaptable according to different personalities and situations. The model defines four levels of stress, from optimal functioning to “ill,” which can stem from a clinical mental disorder or severe unhealed stress. If someone displays signs of stress, it defines a series of actions meant to calm and reassure the person and, if warranted, refer them to professional help.

More:New free service aims to connect Ohio’s health care workers with mental health resources



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