Mental health problems are terribly common: one in five Americans experiences mental illness in a given year. In Putnam County the numbers are similar, and may be rising. In a recent national survey, Putnam residents estimated more poor mental health days per month than they had reported in previous years. This May, Mental Health Month, Putnam’s community organizations and the county’s Department of Health are joining to bring awareness, sensitivity and action to this problem.

“The high numbers of mental health problems means that virtually everyone has a family member or close personal friend who lives with a mental health issue, or they are living with one themselves,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “The ultimate role of government is to protect its citizenry—that’s why our health department and our department of social services and mental health, along with many community partners, have selected mental health as a priority for our community health improvement plan. It’s also why the Suicide Prevention Task Force was established in the County.”

To highlight how widespread mental health challenges are and to bring awareness to how these conditions can be diagnosed and successfully treated, the Putnam County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is sponsoring its Third Annual Mental Health Awareness Walk on Saturday, May 14, from 9 am to Noon. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and forms must be turned in by 8:50 a.m. at the Carmel Fire House.

Putnam residents can also join mental health providers and other community organizations for the Mental Health Recovery Conference, entitled “Redefining Mental Health: Perspectives on Wellness and Recovery,” on May 12 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Putnam County Golf Course.

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