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Being Mindful of Mental Health in May

Some Minnesota health care advocates are trying to remove the social stigmas surrounding mental illness through educational events as part of May as National Mental Health Awareness Month. (iStockphoto)
Some Minnesota health care advocates are trying to remove the social stigmas surrounding mental illness through educational events as part of May as National Mental Health Awareness Month. (iStockphoto)
May 2, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Mental illness may be affecting more Minnesotans than you think, as health professionals say about 224,000 people receive mental health services in the state.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it's being used as a time to remember that those who are seeking treatment also may face social stigmas.

Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota, says people may be afraid to tell their boss or employer that they're suffering with depression or other serious mental health conditions.

"I think their fear is that they won't get a promotion, they won't get a raise, that they will be fired for this,” she states. “The Americans with Disabilities Act actually does apply for someone with a mental illness. "

Abderholden says employers should make reasonable accommodations for workers who struggle with mental illness, but under the act they have to be notified first.

This month, the alliance is hosting a series of events around the state to educate the public about mental illness and to build support for increasing services.

The group is praising Gov. Mark Dayton's budget proposal for including more funding for state-run mental health providers.

Abderholden says such moves could help uncover untreated mental illnesses, which would cut down on health care costs in the long run.

"People wait an average of 10 years before seeking treatment,” she points out. “It's just way too long. We know, generally speaking, in health care that the earlier that you identify and treat something the better the outcomes, and the same is true for mental illnesses."

Abderholden also suggests that employers could train supervisors and managers to be as sensitive to mental health issues as other health conditions.




Reach Abderholden at 651-645-2948 Ext. 105. Mental health events: http://bit.ly/24gyPEO.

http://www.namihelps.org/blogs/may-is-mental-health-month.html

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN