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Public health week is celebrated April 5 through April 11.

In the midst of the most challenging public health crisis of our lifetimes, it’s more important than ever to celebrate public health. Saturday April 10 of public health week is dedicated to uplifting mental health and wellness. We want this article to celebrate the partnership between the Marietta/Belpre Health Department, the Washington County Health Department, and the Washington County Behavioral Health Board.

Mental health is a critical component of public health

Strong mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental health refers to the presence of positive characteristics.

People who are mentally healthy have:

¯A sense of contentment.

¯A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun.

¯The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.

¯A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.

¯The flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change.

¯A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.

¯The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.

¯Self-confidence and high self-esteem.

In the United States, mental illness is one of the most common health conditions. In a year, one in five Americans will experience mental illness. Approximately 50% percent of mental illness begins by the age of 14, and 75% begins by the age of 24. Certain childhood risk factors, including growing up in poverty or experiencing abuse, can be an indicator for mental illness later in life.

The relationship between resilience and mental health

Having solid mental health doesn’t mean that you never go through bad times or experience emotional problems. We all go through disappointments, loss, and change. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. But just as physically healthy people are better able to bounce back from illness or injury, people with strong mental health are better able to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. This ability is called resilience.

People who are emotionally and mentally resilient have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. They remain focused, flexible, and productive, in bad times as well as good. Their resilience also makes them less afraid of new experiences or an uncertain future. Even when they don’t immediately know how a problem will get resolved, they are hopeful that a solution will eventually be found.

Advocacy for mental health is crucial, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic can affect mental health in many ways, including through loss of a loved one, isolation due to physical distancing mandates, exposure to the virus and loss of income. Practicing strategies like being physically active, getting at least eight hours of sleep each night, eating a well-balanced diet, practicing gratitude, participating in activities you enjoy, developing coping skills, meditating and connecting with others can improve mental health.

Reach out if you need help

If you, or someone you know, is in need of mental health and/or addiction services, please contact one of our local service providers below:

¯Life and Purpose Behavioral Health (Marietta, Belpre, & Beverly, OH): 740-376-0930

-Walk-In Hours Monday through Friday 8AM-1PM

¯Rigel Recovery Services (Reno, OH): 740-371-5160

¯Hopewell Health Center (Belpre, OH): 740-423-8095

-Call Mondays & Wednesdays between 8AM-11AM for available Walk-In Hours

¯Integrated Services for Behavioral Health (Marietta, OH): 1-800-321-8293

For immediate assistance, please contact one of the crisis lines below:

¯Crisis Text Line: text “4Hope” to 741741

¯24-Hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

For more information, resources, and services concerning Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health, please visit our website, wcbhb.org and check out the Recovery is Beautiful Facebook page.

Shaeleigh Sprigg is a member of the Washington County Behavioral Health Board.

Rebecca Aber is a member of the Marietta/Belpre Health Department.

Sherry Ellem is a member of the Washington County Health Department.


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