Mental Health Awareness Month

Written by Kelly Decker, MA, LMHC

Mental Health Unit with Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office // Charlotte Behavioral Health Care

You Are Not Alone!  May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Established in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month works to fight the stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for polices to support individuals with mental illness and their families.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness has declared 2021’s theme as “You Are Not Alone”.  After the struggles of isolation and social disconnection from the negative impact of COVID-19, this statement of YOU ARE NOT ALONE feels reassuring and comforting.  It somehow suggests that we, as a community and as a nation, can heal from the trauma from the past year and grow into something new and more cognizant of one another. 

Mental Health Illness not only affects the life of the person living with the illness, but also the lives of the family and the community around them.  Statics show that at least 8.4 million Americans provide care to an adult with an emotional or mental illness (NAMI, 2021).  An average of 21% of people experiencing homelessness also have a serious mental illness (NAMI, 2021).  About 1 in 8 of all visits to the emergency department are related to mental and substance use disorders (NAMI, 2021).  NAMI reports approximately 37% of people incarcerated in state and federal prison have a diagnosed mental condition whereas 70% of youth involved in the juvenile justice system have a least one mental health condition (2021). 

Sheriff Prummell created the Mental Health Unit at the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office in August 2018 to address the mental health and substance use needs of the community.  The purpose of the MHU is to connect individuals with community resources to address issues in the effort to avoid an escalation of problems.  Currently, the MHU provides psychological first aid to individuals in crisis, educates and supports those individuals and family members experiencing substance use issues, and links individuals in the community with services.  The MHU also has a Senior Care Expert on staff who assists Charlotte County Senior with their needs. 

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office takes mental health very seriously. Deputies are trained in Crisis Intervention and are well-informed on how to approach situations involving individuals with mental health afflictions such as autism, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Additionally, programs are available that may benefit these individuals, which are listed below.

Drug Addiction Recovery Initiative – for those with substance abuse issues that are ready to take control of their addiction

Project Lifesaver / Take Me Home / DNA Scent Kit – for those who have a tendency to wander and become lost

Senior Outreach Program – to check in on seniors living alone and help connect them to appropriate resources

For more information regarding any of our programs, contact our Community Affairs Unit at (941) 575-5345.

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