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5/7/2015 - Fairfield Recognizes May as Mental Health Awareness Month

First Selectman Mike Tetreau announced today that the Town of Fairfield is recognizing the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month. The First Selectman issued a proclamation to representatives of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board at yesterday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

In recognizing the critical importance of mental health to people’s lives and to the community’s well-being, First Selectman Tetreau issued the proclamation to re-affirm Fairfield’s commitment to increasing citizen’s understanding of mental illness, promoting access to treatment, and supporting individuals and families dealing with mental illness. The proclamation encourages everyone to take advantage of the many free trainings, presentations, films, public art projects, and fairs available during May to raise awareness.

First Selectman Tetreau said, “I want to thank the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board for their tireless and dedicated work in helping our neighbors, friends, and family members who are struggling with mental health issues and for educating communities on how to be more aware and understanding of what people go through. Every day of the year—not just the month of May— we should all try to put ourselves in other’s shoes to become more tolerant and empathetic so that we can find better solutions to help others.”

According to the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board, when people see the early symptoms of mental illness, which can include changes in eating or sleeping behavior, isolation, or irritability, they often do not know how to help. The first instinct may be to ignore the behaviors or to turn away, as part of a culture of politeness that impedes supportive conversation.

“We’ve all been socialized not to comment on people’s behavior. Just taking the time to ask ‘What’s going on?’ when you notice a change in behaviors or when someone says ‘I’m so stressed’ can be the first step for someone who needs help,” notes Margaret Watt, Executive Director of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board.

Identifying May as Mental Health Awareness Month reminds community members – teachers, pastors, health care providers, community leaders, parents, neighbors and friends – to consciously change this approach. Initiating meaningful dialogue can reduce the tragic burden of untreated mental health conditions.

The statistics are staggering:
• 18.6% of Connecticut residents experience a mental illness in any given year; and
• More than half of Connecticut adults with a serious mental illness do not receive treatment or counseling; and
• Mental health is the number one cause of hospitalizations in Connecticut; and
• Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the United States, Europe and the world; and
• Nine out of ten people with substance use disorders do not receive the care they need.

During May, the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board encourages community members to reach out actively to those around them. Ask how they are doing, and listen actively. Offer support. Learn more about mental illness by attending one of the 60 free awareness events taking place throughout the month, including speakers, programs, trainings and fairs. For a listing, visit www.HealthyMindsCT.org to see the events calendar developed by the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board.  

HealthyMindsCT.org is the website of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board (SWRMHB), a nonprofit community-based advisory council that works to ensure a high-quality mental health system promoting recovery and well-being for the residents of southwestern Connecticut.

For information or questions on Mental Health Awareness, please contact Margaret Watt, Executive Director of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board at 1 Park St, Norwalk 06851 or 203-840-1187 or mwatt@swrmhb.org.

The photo shows Selectman Kevin Kiley, Selectman Sheila Marmion, Cheryll Houston, Deputy Director of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board, and First Selectman Mike Tetreau at the Board of Selectmen's meeting in Independence Hall.