1 in 5 people will experience a mental health issue at some point in their life. People don’t choose to experience a mental health issue just as they don’t choose other health issues. Genetics, a history of abuse, trauma, unforeseen hardships, interpersonal conflicts and stress can all lead to symptoms of mental illness.
Most of you know that long before I was County Executive, I was in law enforcement. I spent 20 years with the NYPD, and I am still haunted by memories of children I saw who had suffered unspeakable trauma. One of my personal goals is to help take away the stigma of mental illness.
Mental health is an essential part of each person’s overall physical wellness. There is a strong link between physical and mental health, each affecting the other. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, restorative sleep and limiting caffeine, alcohol, sugar and other substances has proven to improve your overall health. Having social connections through positive friends, family, a counselor or pets can also boost one’s physical and mental health.
Your supportive social connections are so important; they give you someone to talk to about what is going on and can help you address the issues you are facing. This is not a problem you can solve on your own.
Last week I declared May Mental Health Awareness Month in Rockland County and raised a flag for the National Alliance of Mental Illness of Rockland County, known as NAMI Rockland. Events like that flag raising are just another way to get people talking about this issue.
I was proud to have our Department of Mental Health at the event along with representatives of Rockland BOCES and Jawonio. All of these groups are great partners in providing help and services to those in need in our community.
My message to you is simple, there is help available. Rockland County has a Behavioral Health Response Team that is available 24/7 by calling 845-517-0400 if you or someone you know is in crisis. NAMI Rockland is also here to support you; they provide assistance to children, youth, families and veterans. You can reach NAMI at 845-359-8787.
We can either deal with the realities of mental illness, or pay for the collateral damage that costs lives and money. I thank NAMI of Rockland and all the other agencies for their partnership and support of my administration’s approach to go out to the communities and deliver these services. I am proud to have declared May as Mental Health Awareness month.