May is Mental Health Awareness Month

afspadforAFPMental Health Month was started 67 years ago by Mental Health America to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone in the month of May.

A local mental health and suicide prevention round table, organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, have stepped up their efforts this May, to join together to bring awareness to #MentalHealthintheValley

The joint campaign, primarily spearheaded by AFSP, Lock and Talk Virginia, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America-Augusta, Valley Community Services Board, and Western State Hospital aims to work together throughout the month of May to bring awareness to mental health issues and resources.

“We began to meet to primarily discuss AFSP and how we could help those already rooted in the mental health and suicide prevention fields with funding, education and training,” said Crystal Graham, AFSP Virginia Chapter secretary and co-chair of the Greater Augusta Out of the Darkness Walk. “However, we found that a much greater collaboration could be useful for us all.”

Since the first meeting of more than a dozen groups at the round table, the agencies have stepped up to work together to schedule more lifesaver training for the community and to plan for the rollout of a joint message for Mental Health Month.

“When we met,” Graham said, “it was clear that while our end goals are all the same, the missions of all of our organizations are a little different.”

With that in mind, the round table members decided to offer their own individual messages in their advertising in the month of May but show cohesion and support for one another by using the same hashtag in social media, print, online, billboard, theater, television and radio ads.

The round table will release a calendar of events for mental health events and training held in the month of May as well as a list of experts for local media to use as resources throughout the month.

“I strongly feel that together, our campaigns will make an impact in the region,” said Graham. “It feels very rewarding to be a part of an effort to help people realize it’s OK to seek help and important that we all look out for our loved ones and ask them if they are having suicidal thoughts.”

“That’s the first step,” said Graham,” in having a conversation and getting immediate help for those who need it.”

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For local emergency mental health care services through Valley Community Services Board, you may also call 540-885-0866 or 540-943-1590.


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