Awareness, education key to addressing mental health issues

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Despite the numerous bumps in the 2020 road, in the aftermath, a few bright spots are emerging. One, in particular, serves as a small step in the right direction on the long road to a better understanding and treating mental health.

In the last year, although instances of mental health crisis issues have increased, the number of suicides actually decreased 5 percent according to the National Vital Statistics System. According to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office, early data shows a decrease in Southwest Utah office when comparing 2019-2020 numbers with 2015-2016.

Jordan Merrill, senior community health specialist with Intermountain Healthcare, says the reason for the decrease is likely multi-faceted, but one key component seems to be an increase in education and services available to those struggling with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts.

Some even credit the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for this increased awareness.

“The pandemic forced some people to pay attention to the problem and allowed them a little more time to find the support they needed,” Merrill says, adding that many organizations provided additional support for mental health needs during this time.

Mental health is important.

“A number of health systems across the state provided things like Intermountain Healthcare’s Behavioral Health Navigation Line,” Merrill says. “It is free and open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. We’ve also tried to increase our training on how to assist people in mental health crisis.”

Combine those efforts with basic human kindness, and you’ve got a recipe with potential for success.

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