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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the first week of May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate half of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at least once in their lives. Children who have mental disorders show it through learning, behavior and emotions. Some common issues are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.

In 2018, the U.S. saw 47,500 deaths from suicide. During a three-year period compared to another three-year period a decade later, Virginians saw an increase in suicide among ages 10-24 increase by 58%.

Dr. Onaiza Anees, M.D., sees patients ages 3 and older at CMH Behavioral Health in South Hill at 140 East Ferrell Street, which just opened in March.

“We are seeing people who have not had behavioral health services in many years or ever,” Anees said. “Psychiatry services are very much needed in all areas. I am glad to be here serving the community. We hope to grow and provide what’s needed in our counties. Let’s work together to destigmatize mental illness.”

MentalHealth.gov lists some tips for helping family and friends suffering from a mental disorder. Ask them if they are getting the care they need and help them find someone to talk to. Let them know you are there for them and treatment is available. Ask questions to show interest and actively listen when they speak about issues. Invite them to do things with you even if they don’t feel like it. Educate, don’t discriminate. Treat them with respect, compassion and empathy.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-TALK (8255).