The Blaine County commissioners declared in their regular session on Tuesday that May 2022 will be designated Mental Health Awareness Month.

The goal of the declaration is to “shine a light on mental health challenges and fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equitable access to care,” according to the resolution signed this week.

One-in-five adults and one-in-four children experience a mental health condition each year, according to the resolution text, and "the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years has exacerbated feelings of mental distress."

"Severe mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases, with mental health treatments accounting for 21% of all inpatient hospitalizations on any given day," the resolution states.

With the resolution, the commissioners also hope to bring awareness to national suicide statistics. In 2020, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States—only dropping from the top ten because COVID-19 moved in. As many as 90% of people who die by suicide had previously shown symptoms of a mental health condition.

The resolution also looks to destigmatize early identification and effective treatment of individuals with emotional distress and their ability to recover.

The commissioners' statement concluded with a call to “come together with every citizen and community to help end the silence and stigma that for too long has made people feel isolated, alone and has discouraged people from seeking help, and through public education and working together to raise awareness, we can help improve the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness, thereby creating a more resilient Blaine County.”

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