TRI-CITIES, Wash. — May is Mental Health Awareness Month and experts in the Tri-Cities are hoping to start conversations as that’s the first step to breaking down any stigma about the conditions that people across America live with on a daily basis.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one out of every five adults experiences a mental illness every year.
In Washington, over 1.2 million adults have a mental health condition, and 82,000 teenagers aged 12 to 17 also have a mental health disorder, NAMI said.
Plus, thousands more experience those conditions every day who aren’t officially diagnosed — a number that’s only increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s why officials said it’s important to highlight these issues that are growing more common.
“If we don’t talk about things, things don’t change,” said Chelsea Klicker, the communications specialist for Lutheran Community Services Northwest. “That first act of reaching out and asking for help or finding the right source of help is really important.”
On Wednesday, the Tri-Cities Dust Devils hosted a mental health awareness night during their game — an event sponsored by the Recovery and Wellness Center of Eastern Washington (RWCEW).
Multiple local organizations joined together to set up tables featuring mental health swag giveaways complete with pamphlets for Tri-Cities resources.
“Demand is just so high in this community so it’s even more important that we talk about it, that we normalize it, and that we just come alongside the community members that are in need,” said RWCEW director Katie Klute. “About 40 million people struggle with anxiety… about 21 million struggle with depression… and about 28 million struggle with eating disorders.”
Klute said some studies are now showing anxiety and other mental health conditions can develop in people as young as three years of age.
“If we can start talking about awareness and prevention even at that age, just think of the change that could make moving forward in that person’s life or the family unit’s life,” Klute said.
“It’s okay to say I have anxiety or depression or an eating disorder and I need some help.”
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