Wyoming Behavioral Institute gives advice on supporting loved ones struggling with mental illness

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “Back to Basics” which puts a focus on providing foundational knowledge about mental health and mental health conditions and information about what people can do if their mental health is a cause for concern.

One specialist from the Wyoming Behavioral Institute says the focus of Mental Health Awareness Month should transition to how people can get help for any of their mental health struggles.

“I think less and less people are unaware of mental health. I think mental health has been dominating the picture the last few years... so I think one of the challenges we begin to surmount is how to get help, as opposed to just being aware of mental illnesses, how to manage mental illness since we all struggle with some form of it at this point,” said WBI Associate Medical Director David Martorano.

Family members and friends can support someone struggling by being there for them when they reach out, both before getting help and while they go through their treatment process.

“I’d say if it’s the first time you’re really becoming aware that you’re struggling with something, it’s important to see a mental health specialist fairly quickly before things get out of control. Before you start having trouble at work, before your relationship, before you turn to drugs and alcohol to manage your mood,” said Martorano.

According to Martorano, being available to help loved ones problem-solve instead of trying to push a discussion about what’s wrong can be beneficial. He says that forcing a conversation about mental illness or someone’s struggles may make them more resistant to help.

“The thing that mental illness tends to rob us of most is hope and I think passing on a message of hope to people who are struggling is the single biggest thing we can still do during this month and every month in all honesty,” said Martorano.

If you or a loved one are struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.

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