Professionals emphasize knowledge and empathy during Mental Illness Awareness Week

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week. Mental health professionals want you to look around you, because someone you know is likely suffering in silence.

“One in five people will experience a mental health diagnosis within any given year,” said Josaylon Wade, Wellstone Inc.’s Chief Clinical Officer.

According to Wade, only about two-thirds will seek help. That’s why it’s important for all of us to be on alert.

“If you have someone that you know, a loved one or friend that may be having a bout of sadness, withdrawing from other people, can’t carry out their daily activities like they once did, or having anger issues or outbursts, we urge you to connect them with a mental health professional,” said Wade.

On October 1st, Wellstone Behavioral Health merged with the Cullman Area Mental Health Authority to better serve people in north Alabama. The merger comes at a critical time.

“Mental health funding has been on the decline, but the needs of mental health services have been on the rise,” explained Wade.

During Mental Illness Awareness Week, Wellstone Inc. has participated in events, like the “Out of the Darkness” walk that highlights the need for suicide prevention resources and suicide loss survivor support. However, Wade says it’s the work every day that counts, like in schools and with each of us removing the negativity attached with mental illness and building a more knowledgeable and caring community.

“Currently, we are in 65 schools within the north Alabama area and what that means is that we are right there in the school systems with a master’s level therapist on site,” described Wade.

Wade and Wellstone, Inc.’s CEO Jeremy Blair both believe it’s critical to remove the stigma that surrounds mental health services.

“We are here to provide services on an array of different spectrums,” said Wade. “We can give them the services they need to live a healthier and fulfilled life.”

WHNT NEWS 19 is Taking Action to bring the topics of mental health and suicide awareness to the forefront. We’re partnering with the Huntsville Hospital Foundation for the S.P.E.A.K. Program, which stands for suicide, prevention, empowerment, awareness and knowledge. As part of that, we want you to know about resources readily available to you, like the S.P.E.A.K. suicide prevention app. It’s for anyone who is contemplating suicide or anyone that wants to help someone at risk in a responsible way.  It outlines warning signs, who to call and guides you on what to say and what not to say to a suicidal person. Learn more about the app.