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Mental Health Awareness Month is for Everyone

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Mental Health Awareness Month is for Everyone

(Harlan) – The month of May is designated as Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States, providing an opportunity to enhance conversation around this important topic. Especially with the stress of the pandemic in the last two years, understanding mental health and how to care for this part of our body is especially vital.

Everyone has mental health. Rather than being separate from our physical health, mental health refers to the functioning of our brain and nervous system. The health of this part of the body shows up most clearly in thoughts, feelings, relationships, and behaviors. However, as the brain and nervous system direct every other part of the body, mental health challenges also can lead to experiences such as high blood pressure, muscle tension and headaches, and digestive issues.

Mental illnesses are very common, as 1 in 5 will have some kind of mental health condition in a given year. Stigma is the greatest barrier to individuals seeking help when mental health is strained. Now more than ever before, many of us could be feeling increased anxiety, stress, or loneliness. Symptoms of depression and anxiety often go unnoticed or overlooked, and even the person experiencing these feelings may think this is normal.

“When I start working with someone, they often express relief and surprise when I start to explain that mental health challenges are often to be expected with the stressors of human life,” said Katie Sandquist, LMHC, a therapist with Myrtue Behavioral Health. “We can get this idea that there’s something wrong with us, and we should just be able to handle everything. In reality, it is incredibly common to have seasons where we struggle, and getting help is a wise and healthy thing to do.”

Throughout the month of May, the Harlan Newspapers will feature different resources related to caring for mental health. This year the Shelby County Wellness Alliance is promoting the theme of “Take Your Next Step,” focusing on understanding current mental health needs and accessing resources to meet those needs, from preventative measures to connecting with professional support.

The Wellness Alliance will also be promoting Make It Ok, a statewide campaign through the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative designed to build awareness and fight stigma. Visit to find more resources and find stories of Iowans living with mental illnesses.

To learn more about local options to support mental health, contact Myrtue Behavioral Health. Behavioral Health offers comprehensive services as well as referrals to community resources. Call 712.755.5056 or visit