(Clarinda) — Each year, May is used to bring awareness to an important topic of personal health and well-being.
The month is designated as Mental Health Awareness Month in an effort to start the conversation around an issue millions of people face daily. The occasion has been observed since 1949, and was started by the Mental Health America organization. Speaking more about the necessity of bringing these challenges to light is Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Trista Grossnickle of the Clarinda Regional Health Center. She says that there’s more to having a healthy mind than most people typically recognize.
“Our mental health includes not only our emotional and psychological well-being, but also our social well-being,” said Grossnickle. “It affects how we think, how we feel, how we act, how we relate to other people, and even how we make our choices. So, it’s important at every stage of life– from childhood through adolescence into adulthood.”
Approximately 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year. Most lifetime illnesses begin at age 14, with the average time between symptoms and treatment being over a decade. The disparity between acknowledgement and treatment has led many resorting to options such as suicide– which the CDC estimates claimed nearly 46,000 lives in 2020. The CDC also says the number of those considering suicide could be much higher, and factors such as unemployment, lack of communication, and even incarceration can exacerbate mental health problems.
Recently, advocacy for mental health support has increased which has helped with the stigma surrounding it. Grossnickle says that it’s good to see more people coming forward and sharing their stories, but there is still more that needs to be done.
“I do think there’s more of an awareness, but I think we have a long way to go,” said Grossnickle. “We’re seeing it more in the media, we’re seeing it more on social media– however, people are still having difficulty getting access to services.”
Grossnickle says this difficulty to access essential mental health services is something that’s evident in communities similar to Southwest Iowa.
“We’re in a small, rural area, so access to mental healthcare can be challenging,” said Grossnickle. “There are some counties in the United States that don’t even have practicing providers. Definitely increased, but we definitely need to do a little bit more to increase awareness and decrease the stigma.”
While rural areas need improvement, Grossnickle says that Clarinda Regional Health Center offers an array of services for those in need. They include medication management, psychological help, and therapeutic help. For more information about the assistance that CRHC provides, call 712-542-2176. You can hear the full interview with CRHC Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Trista Grossnickle here: