With the crucial message of “Together for Mental Health” emblazoned on its website, social media, videos and more, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has banded together with others to speak out louder than ever during May.
Mental Health Awareness Month is once again on the calendar and Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (YFS) administrator Tambi Cork noted that mental health is essential to overall health.
“While mental health is important to discuss year-round, campaigns such as Mental Health Awareness Month allow communities to highlight and elevate this important conversation and are critical for decreasing stigma and increasing awareness about the importance of mental health,” she said.
NAMI added that millions of Americans live with mental illness each year and the national movement this month is vital to raise awareness about mental health.
“Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families,” reads the NAMI site.
Locally, YFS offers mental health services for students via school counselors and seniors, individual and family counseling and includes mental health promotion, family support services and youth engagement in its Healthy Youth Initiative. YFS is a city department and is available to Mercer Island residents, who can call the confidential intake and consultation line at (206) 275-7657.
“Just like physical health, mental health conditions are treatable, and early detection and intervention is essential,” said Cork, referencing a Mental Health America report. She added that anecdotally, YFS is experiencing an unprecedented demand for services from its school-based and community-based mental health counseling teams.
In a 2021 Reporter story regarding the virtual Mercer Island Healthy Youth Forum, Dr. Jason Kilmer, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, gave a nod of approval to Islanders for their constant wave of support to the younger set.
“Research shows that youth who feel safe and valued in their community are positively impacted, including experiencing increases in hope, sense of purpose, and future expectations,” Kilmer said. “Mercer Island is a community that clearly values kids and others in the community, and that investment of energy, resources, time, and actions really matters.”
For more information, visit YFS at https://www.mercerisland.gov/yfs, and NAMI at https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month.