HomeSicklerville NewsCounty observance focuses on mental-health challenges

County observance focuses on mental-health challenges

The Camden County Board of Commissioners is dedicating the month of May to mental-health awareness, echoing a national movement initiated in 1949 that is recognized in Gloucester Township and across the county.

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The initiative coincides with concerning trends reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, that nearly one in five Americans has faced a mental-health condition such as anxiety or depression in the past year.

Commissioner Virginia Betteridge emphasized the importance of mental health in overall health management.

“Mental health is incredibly important, yet it is often left out of the conversation when it comes to taking care of ourselves,” she stated. “You cannot be well if your mental health is unattended to, and throughout this month, we really want to highlight the resources available for those struggling with their mental health.”

A pivotal event – the annual mental health walk – will demonstrate community solidarity with those affected by mental-health challenges. It is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, at Wiggins Park in Camden.

The county notably expanded its mental health-services last year, leveraging funds from the state’s opioid litigation settlement. New initiatives include post-crisis case management, no-cost access to licensed clinical professionals for school-age children who face suspension or expulsion due to mental or behavioral issues, and socialization and support services for nursing home residents.

The introduction of mental-health navigators, part of Project SAVE in municipal courts, offers early intervention and support for individuals facing mental-health and opioid use disorders.

Another critical goal for Mental Health Awareness Month is to break the stigma of mental-health issues, making it easier for individuals to seek help.

“Unfortunately, talking about mental health is still pretty difficult for a lot of people,” Betteridge noted. “There is an element of shame or embarrassment attached with the topic, when there shouldn’t be. So this month, we also want to open up the conversation about mental health and emphasize that prioritizing your mental health is commendable and nothing to be ashamed of.”

The Camden County Office of Mental Health and addiction is accessible at (856) 374-6361 or through its website, www.camdencounty.com. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a treatment locator tool. For immediate crisis support, individuals can call or text 988 at any hour.

As Gloucester Township joins communities across the nation in recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month, the local efforts to enhance understanding, reduce stigma, and expand essential services reflect a broader commitment to fostering a healthier community for all.

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