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Mental Health America of Augusta launches Mental Health Month messaging

Mental Health America of AugustaAn increased number of calls have been coming into the Mental Health America of Augusta office this month related to depression and anxiety. The Staunton-based nonprofit is ready to answer the mighty call to action from our community.

After a successful virtual conference focused on youth and COVID-19 with 710 registered participants, MHA-A has now pivoted its focus to Mental Health Month and providing additional resources and information to community members in need.

Mental Health Month website

Following the national platform set by Mental Health of America, the local affiliate is highlighting #Tools2Thrive in May. The social media and online resources, tips, and worksheets are set up to help individuals in their daily lives with prioritizing mental health, building resiliency, and continuing to cope with the obstacles of COVID-19.

“During the past year, we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in the numbers of people experiencing mental health problems,” said Paul Gionfriddo, President, and CEO of MHA. “In November 2020, the CDC reported that 44 percent of us were dealing with either depression or anxiety. While historically data shows us that 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental health problem, these days it certainly feels like it’s 5 in 5.”

Mental Health America of Augusta launched a Mental Health month section on their website using the #Tools2Thrive fact sheets and worksheets as the backbone of the page. Throughout the month, MHAA will post daily Facebook posts and continue to post more information to their website to build a mentally
healthier community.

Online resource directory

In addition to the Mental Health Month section on the website, MHA-A has also recently developed an online Resource Directory. The effort was led by Grace McNeal, a Blue Ridge Community College student and intern with MHA-A.

“I find it crucial for people to have the ability and resources to help themselves when facing difficult decisions,” she said in a news update posted on the MHA-A website. “Many people find it difficult to ask for help, especially when they believe that others will perceive them as weak or vulnerable. However, the
Director can help eliminate the mindset by giving people the resources they need to take care of themselves and to take initiative in overcoming challenges they face.”

The directory is online under the Resources tab and features links and information on local and national organizations that can provide information and assistance to individuals. Some of the 25 sections include domestic violence, employment, health/medical, LGBTQ+, sexual assault, suicide prevention,
transportation, and veterans.

Screenings

Throughout May, MHAA will also continue to encourage individual mental health screenings. With every screening done on the website, individuals are provided the resources and connections to take the first step in building healthier lives.

As reported earlier this year, screenings are up more than 250 percent over the last year in the Greater Augusta area. 65 percent of the screenings completed online were for youth ages 11-24.

“The first step for someone who is struggling with mental help is to get support,” said Bruce Blair, executive director of Mental Health America of Augusta. “Our organization is relieved that we can provide depression, anxiety, and youth-specific screenings to help put those who struggle on a path to recovery.”

Suicide prevention

In partnership with Valley Community Services Board and Lock & Talk Virginia, Mental Health America of Augusta is also offering a suicide prevention training program on Friday, May 28, in Waynesboro.

safeTALK is a 3 1/2 hour class that prepares helpers to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first-aid resources.

“During Mental Health Month, we wanted to offer training to help individuals learn practical skills that can help save a life,” said Crystal Graham, a board member for Mental Health America of Augusta, who co-leads the training.

Strict COVID-19 protocols will be in place. The training is free, but space is limited.

For more information on Mental Health Month, the resource directory, online screenings, and safeTALK training, call MHA-A at (540) 886-7181 or visit www.mha-augusta.org


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press