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May 16th is Mental Health Action Day

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May 16th is Mental Health Action Day

The arrival of May means Mental Health Awareness Month. This year, Myrtue Behavioral Health and the National Alliance on Mental Illness/NAMI Southwest Iowa are teaming up for a special event on May 16th, nation-wide Mental Health Action Day. The day will hold many opportunities to build awareness and take action to support mental health.

Mental health challenges are very common, as one in five people will have some kind of mental health condition in a given year. Among young adults, that number jumps to one in three. Whether or not they experience a mental health diagnosis, all people have mental health. May provides an annual opportunity to deepen the community conversation about supporting mental health. The 2024 theme is Healing is Not Linear. Mental health can move through seasons of thriving to struggling, but no matter what we are experiencing, we can take action to support mental health for ourselves and others.

“We know one of the biggest barriers to mental health support is stigma- all the negative associations we have related to mental health conditions and to the people who live with them,” said Katie Sandquist, a licensed mental health counselor at Myrtue Behavioral Health. “This year we wanted to create experiences for our community not only to deepen their understanding of mental health but also to respond with supportive action.”

Mental Health Action Day kicks off on the afternoon of May 16th with an open house type event at the Petersen Family Wellness Center. Community members can stop in any time between 1 pm and 4 pm to visit mental illness simulations. Myrtue Behavioral Health will have four different rooms available offering a sample experience of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and addiction. Each experience will last about five minutes, and visitors can do one room or multiple rooms. After the simulation, participants will have a guided time to debrief their experience. Throughout the afternoon, community members can also visit the resource fair highlighting area organizations that support various needs related to mental health. This will be a great opportunity to learn practical resources to support mental health locally.

Mental Health Action Day will continue during the evening of May 16th. From 5:30 to 7 PM at Pioneer Park in Harlan, the community can join the Mental Health Action Walk. Myrtue Behavioral Health and NAMI Southwest Iowa have a great evening planned.

At 6 pm, there will be a short program featuring Chris Adcock from NAMI Southwest Iowa sharing her personal story of navigating mental health conditions. Adcock’s story highlights the Healing is Not Linear theme. She will share about how her own recovery has not been a straight line and how we all need a lot of compassion and grace on the mental health journey.

“I'm beyond excited to participate in the Mental Health Action Day Walk in Harlan, alongside Myrtue Behavioral Health. The lineup of interactive and immersive activities has me eagerly anticipating the day,” said Anna Killpack, executive director of NAMI Southwest Iowa. “It's more than just a walk; it's a chance for all of us to come together, show support, and engage with our community. It's about making a meaningful difference in the lives of those around us. I can't wait to be a part of such an incredible event.”

Walkers will move through stations along the path where they can make coping toolkits, take action to support loved ones, and learn more about caring for their own mental health. The teams at Myrtue Behavioral Health and NAMI Southwest Iowa designed the walk to be a celebration of the courage and resilience of all those navigating mental health conditions. Game Time Eats Food Truck and Tropical Snow will also be on site.

At both the afternoon and evening events, community members can create signs in honor or in memory of mental health warriors who are living with a mental health condition or who have lost their lives to mental illness. The team will place these signs along the path for the community walk.

To learn more about local options to support mental health, contact Myrtue Behavioral Health. Behavioral health offers comprehensive services for treatment as well as referrals to community resources. Call 712.755.5056 or visit the Behavioral Health webpage. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illnesses. Learn more about the resources and opportunities in the local chapter NAMI Southwest Iowa at