Monday, May 6, 2013

From District 6: May is Mental Health Awareness Month

by Councilmember Lorie Zapf

According to federal statistics, 1 in every 4 adults, or approximately 750,000 San Diegans, suffer from mental health challenges. For many, it is a private battle that can leave individuals feeling isolated and unlikely to seek treatment due to self-stigma. Mental illness not only affects the individual, but can have lasting impacts on friends and loved ones as well. It isn’t easy to watch a loved one suffering, particularly when you don’t know where or how to help them.

This is a deeply personal issue for me, as I have family members who have suffered from mental illness. This is why I was proud to ask my colleagues to declare May as Mental Health Awareness Month in the City of San Diego. I believe that we will be a better city by talking about these difficult issues and breaking down the negative stigma associated with mental health.

Mental health issues are not limited to conditions like depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. They can also include substance abuse, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety disorders.

San Diego is fortunate enough to have several nonprofits that help our citizens cope with a wide spectrum of mental health issues. Mental Health America, Mental Health Systems, and Partnerships with Industry are just a few of the great nonprofits that cover a wide spectrum of issues.  We also have great public programs available through the County of San Diego, as the City is not directly responsible for health and social services. 

If you or a loved one are suffering from mental health challenges, rest assured that you are not alone. There are free resources available at www.up2sd.org that can help link you with services, answer questions, or just talk to a confidential counselor 24-hours a day. Let’s work together to find a “Pathway to Wellness” that lets all San Diegans achieve wellness, and good mental and overall health.

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