Polk discusses trauma effects, recognizes May as mental health awareness month

Published 7:49 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Polk County Board of Commissioners proclaimed the month of May as mental health awareness month and urged residents to increase awareness and understanding of mental health throughout the county. (See below for the complete proclamation.)
This year’s mental health awareness theme is “Healing Trauma’s Invisible Wounds” in an effort to raise awareness of trauma and the impact that it has on mental, physical and emotional well-being and to inform people that there are therapeutic techniques that can help create dramatic changes in people’s lives.
The board of commissioners met May 21 and approved the proclamation, read by Polk County Mental Health Advisory Board Chair Josh Schactman.
Local mental health officials said trauma can come in many forms and those events that are traumatic for one person may not seem at all traumatic to the next. Even trauma that happened many years ago can affect someone’s health today.
While most people may think of trauma as physical trauma, such as the result of a car accident or assault, officials said trauma can fall into many other categories, including the following:
• Interpersonal violence, such as abuse, rape, domestic violence and bullying
• Social violence such as war, terrorism and living under oppressive political regimes
• Natural disasters and accidents, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and auto crashes;
• Serving in combat
• Chronic social stressors such as racism, sexism, poverty, humiliation and cultural dislocation
• Childhood trauma, such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse
• Emotional and physical neglect
• A parent who is an alcoholic or addicted to drugs
• A parent who’s been battered
• Family member in prison or diagnosed with mental illness
• Loss of a parent through divorce or abandonment
Officials said unresolved trauma can manifest in many ways, including anxiety disorders, panic attacks, intrusive memories (flashbacks), obsessive-compulsive behaviors, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, addictions, self-injury and a variety of physical symptoms. Trauma increases health risk behaviors such as overeating, smoking, drinking and risky sex. Trauma survivors can also become perpetrators themselves.
Trauma is the leading cause of the death of children in this country, according to national statistics. The effect of trauma on productive life years lost exceeds that of any other disease. The economic cost of 50 million injuries in the year 2000 was $406 billion. The estimate includes $80 billion in medical care costs and $326 billion in productivity losses, according to information provided to commissioners.
According to national statistics, the predicted cost to the health care system from interpersonal violence and abuse ranges between $333 billion and $750 billion annually, or nearly 17 to 37.5 percent of total health care expenditures.
Mental health officials also said many people find that getting help for past or current traumatic events gives them relief and energy to move forward with their lives.
Anyone who feels they or a family member might need help with any of the above-mentioned issues and is not currently receiving treatment but would like to is urged to call the Western Highlands Access Call Center. The staff is trained to listen to a person’s concerns and give a choice of providers, as well as make an appointment with the appropriate provider for evaluation and intake.
Western Highland’s toll-free number, which is answered by the call center professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, is 800-951-3792.


Polk issues proclamation
for Mental Health Month
WHEREAS, Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health Month throughout the United States. With this observation an opportunity has been provided to raise awareness about mental health issues for more than 60 years; and
WHEREAS, Each May, Americans recognize Mental Health Month with events and activities in communities across the country. This year, the theme, “Healing Trauma’s Invisible Wounds,” raises awareness of trauma, the devastating impact it has on physical, emotional and mental well-being and how therapeutic techniques based in neuroscience can mitigate these effects and create dramatic changes in people’s lives; and
WHEREAS, Mental illness can strike anyone at any time. Mental illness does not discriminate. In fact, it affects people of all races, religions, creeds, color, ethnic origins, sex, age and socio-economic status. One out of five families will experience a family member with some type of mental illness. Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feelings, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning resulting in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life; and
WHEREAS, Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being; and
WHEREAS, All Americans experience times of difficulty and stress in their lives; and
WHEREAS, Prevention is an effective way to reduce the burden of mental health conditions; and
WHEREAS, There is a strong body of research that supports specific tools that all Americans can use to better handle challenges, and protect their health and well-being; and
WHEREAS, Mental health conditions are real and prevalent in our nation; and
WHEREAS, With effective treatment, those individuals with mental health conditions can recover and lead full, productive lives; and
WHEREAS each business, school, government agency, healthcare provider, organization and citizen shares the burden of mental health problems and has a responsibility to promote mental wellness and support prevention efforts
NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that we, the Polk County Board of Commissioners, do hereby proclaim the month of May as Mental Health Month, and encourage all citizens, government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses and schools in Polk County to recommit to increasing awareness and understanding of mental health. The board also calls upon you to promote advocacy and education; work towards the elimination of stigma toward those living with mental illness, their families, friends and co-workers; and to support community organizations and agencies promoting health and wellness by serving individuals and families seeking to respond to the challenges before them.
Adopted this the 21st day of May 2012.

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