The Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a proclamation declaring the week of October 3-9, 2021, as “Mental Illness Awareness Week” during the Board of Commissioners meeting that was held at 9 a.m. on Monday, October 4, 2021.
The proclamation was brought before the board by Dare County Department of Health & Human Services (DCDHHS) Director Dr. Sheila Davies and DCDHHS Communications Specialist Kelly Nettnin, who also serves as chair of the Breaking Through Task Force, a local organization that works to address the stigma and other barriers that prevent many individuals from seeking help for mental health or substance use issues.
“Mental health has been cited as a significant concern in our community dating back from the early 2000s with the community health assessment—and with each assessment that we’ve done, it continues to be on the top level of issues cited by citizens,” said Davies. “In fact, in our most recent assessment, 19.2 percent of community survey respondents indicated that poor mental health had affected their day-to-day or normal activities within the last 30 days.”
Davies also noted that one of the key findings from the Dare County Community Health Needs Assessment and its associated focus groups was that there is a significant stigma associated with early intervention and seeking care for mental health issues, preventing many people from reaching out for the help they need.
“That’s one of the primary functions of the Breaking Through Task Force: to try to help break down that stigma and recognize that it’s OK to get help,” said Davies. “It’s OK to say, ‘I’m struggling a little bit,’ or, ‘I’m not able to cope the way that I’d normally be able to cope.”
Following Davies’ introduction, Nettnin then gave a presentation to the board that highlighted the Breaking Through Task Force’s ongoing efforts to provide both education and outreach throughout Dare County, which includes the organization’s development of various video series, blog posts, mental health workbooks, listening sessions, member discussion forums, as well as virtual and in-person outreach.
Nettnin also showcased the Breaking Through Task Force’s recently revamped website, which contains a wealth of resources that are available locally for those who are struggling with issues regarding mental health in Dare County, including contact information for numerous local counselors and therapists.
After the presentation to the board, Davies shared the proclamation, which stated that one in five adults in the United States—approximately 43.8 million people—experience a mental health problem in any given year, that nearly one in 20 Americans live with a serious mental illness and that suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Dare County.
The proclamation went on to state that early identification and treatment can make a significant difference in the successful management of mental illness and lead to recovery; that public education and community activities can boost mental health and help improve the lives of individuals and families who are affected by mental illness; and that every citizen and community can make a difference in helping to end the silence and stigma that surround mental illness and discourage people from getting help.
With the week of October 3-9, 2021, officially being declared by the Dare County Board of Commissioners as “Mental Illness Awareness Week,” county officials encourage anyone struggling with issues related to mental health to take advantage of the wide array of resources that are available locally.
For more information about the Breaking Through Task Force, click the button below, or consult the resources listed below.