WINONA, Minn. (Winona Daily News) – Mental health is a growing concern in and around Winona. The 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment listed Mental Health as one of the top three priorities for community members. Expect that to continue to be a concern when the latest survey results are released later this year. Staff serving community members in Family & Children’s Center’s outpatient counseling services see an increasing need.

Understanding mental health

Forget the misconception that mental health concerns mean someone can’t lead a full and productive life. When someone says they have a mental health challenge, that can mean a range of things. Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder are all concerns that our friends and neighbors may be dealing with every day.

There are no limits to who may be impacted by mental health concerns. Young, old, rich, poor — everyone from every walk of life can deal with these concerns. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that 21% of people surveyed in 2020 say they experienced mental health concerns in the past year.

“People seek outpatient counseling for a variety of reasons including stressors in their life, an inability to cope with something that has happened, or a general feeling of hopelessness,” said Family & Children’s Center clinical director Leah Morken, PhD. “We are also seeing people who are being triggered by different societal events, which may bring up their own past traumas or feelings they would like to explore.”

Children are no stranger to needing mental health services. SAMHSA’s 2020 survey shows an increase for children 12 to 17 needing outpatient services.

People with mental health concerns aren’t alone. But that doesn’t mean anyone needs to ignore their concerns.

Taking the first step

Recognizing that you or someone in your life is dealing mental health concern isn’t always easy. The National Alliance on Mental Illness lists excessive fear, confusion, extreme mood changes and difficulty understanding other people can all be signs you may be dealing with mental health concerns. The best time to seek help is when you notice a change.

“If a person was once outgoing and now are tending to isolate, they may want to seek mental health support,” said Morken, PhD. “Or if you notice excessive worry that is affecting functioning. Other signs may include confusion, difficulties with concentration, extreme mood changes, feelings of (being overwhelmed) or difficulties making decisions.”

If you are concerned about someone in your life, there are things you can look out for as well. Avoiding friends or social activities, overuse of alcohol or drugs, or inability to take part in daily activities or handle daily problems.

Here to Help: Call Family & Children’s Center today at 507-453-9563.

Article initially published on July 27th, 2022 in the Winona Daily News.