Hailey City Council staff and the public proudly display their NAMI support.

  One of the undeniable facts of life is that sooner or later we’ll all be impacted by mental health challenges

    It may be personally, battles we face ourselves or try to help family members go through, or it may be of a more secondary nature, through challenges with a co-worker or a regular at your favorite hang-out spot.

   Despite the fact that nearly a quarter of all Americans, including children, suffer from mental illness there are reasons to be hopeful.

   And one of those reasons is you.

   “We all play a role in this all-important conversation,” Christina Cernansky, the Executive Director of NAMI-Wood River Valley, said. “Whether you like it or not, or even if you’ll admit or not, at some point you will be forced to deal with mental health challenges. So you might as well join us in the conversation and help us support individuals and loved ones as they manage their recovery process.”

   Studies have shown that mental health issues, like anxiety disorders and depression, are no different than other health issues, like high blood pressure or diabetes. They can be successfully treated. In fact, 80% of mental health patients respond to treatment.

   It can be hard for most of us to ask for help, or even to ask how we can help. That’s why we’re lucky to have a strong local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI-Wood River Valley is here to help in a variety of ways.

  One of the best ways they do is through their Work Place program, which includes a detailed, attainable plan to help companies combat mental health stigma. Untreated mental health challenges are the number one cause of worker disability. This Wednesday, May 15 at noon, NAMI will be putting on a Mental Health in Workplace event at the Ketchum Innovation Center.

   “NAMI provides the resources to help employers and supervisors support their staffs, “ Christina said. “We’re lucky to have NAMI in our community.”

   Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, NAMI-Wood River Valley is also putting on their annual Stigma-Free Bike Ride. This fun, family-friendly bike ride will connect all four local towns and this year it will finish at the Arborfest and Hailey Home, Garden and Outdoor Show celebration this Saturday. With all the fun festivities going on at Roberta McKercher and Wertheimer Parks in Hailey, the ride is certain to be a success.

Hopefully, you can take part in the Stigma-Free Ride, but even if you can’t you can still be part of the cure.

As Christina advises, “Reconsider a judgment, reach out to a coworker, support a friend, begin a conversation—there is much to be done to breakdown the barriers of stigma and shed the shame, but together we can achieve it!”

To find out more about NAMI, please go to nami-wrv.org or call their non-crisis hotline (208) 481-0686.

By Mike McKenna

Blaine County staff and Council members support Mental Health Awareness Month.

This story originally appeared in The Weekly Sun.



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