May is Mental Health Awareness month.  It does not normally get too much attention.  But this year I am trying to draw attention to it.  I am making a mental health awareness day at my church in Fort Myers called Mayday 2016.

People need to know that mental health is important and when they have a mental health illness it is just as important as other diseases you might have and have to go to a doctor for.  But more importantly people need to know that there is help and there is recovery.  And because substance abuse is often co-occurring with mental illness, I would like them to come too and give information and where to get help.  We lose too many people everyday to these two diseases.

The idea for this day came from the tragedy in Charleston.  Although I wrote on this tragedy as racism, I still see this young man as a troubled individual.  He was, I found out later, brought up in a Lutheran church.  This very much troubled me that people saw something and did not know where to go for help and so the idea of Mayday was born.  Recently, I saw a news story around Christmas at Fort Myers Beach.  They closed a school event because the community was so afraid of one individual.  This individual needed help in my opinion and that was never recommended for him.

Why are we so scared of talking about mental health issues?  We do but usually in a negative way.  I saw tonight on the news two stories that impacted mental health.  One was a way for pregnant women to get help with postpartum depression.  That is great and I hope more new mothers do this.  Then another tragedy talked about.  A boyfriend and girlfriend who decided on a murder-suicide pact and killed their dog and two daughters.  Then he killed her but could not bring himself to kill himself.  Again, somebody had to be see something but nobody did anything.

Think of it this way:  If someone was having a heart attack and you saw the symptoms would you not recommend that they go to a hospital?  Would you just sit there and watch them.  If they died, would you say I did not know what to do so I did nothing.  This is probably not the scenario, you would probably call 911.  Did you know you can call 911 for a mental health emergency in Florida and the police can take the person someplace so they can get help.

This is what Mayday 2016 is all about.  Where can I get the help that I or my loved one needs?  What are the symptoms I need to look for?   Can I reduce the stigma of mental health?

And along with this I hope to have exhibitors about substance abuse.  Substance abuse is not only linked to mental health but causes many deaths.  Most people think of substance abuse as a young person disease but it is more and more affecting our elderly population.  Many of the diseases that are treated in a hospital setting are the result of substance abuse.

Please save this day and come to our event.  We are working on the website and hope to have it up shortly.  Thank you for caring

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