Wear-Green-MHMonth-2016-emailNRVCS (New River Valley Community Services) is encouraging local residents to wear green on Friday, May 13 in support of mental health awareness. This activity coincides with the national observance of Mental Health Month.

According to spokesperson Mike Wade, employees at NRVCS are also being encouraged to wear green on May 13. The agency conducted its first “wear green” day last year with dozens of staff participating. Wade says he hopes the event will carry over into the community, giving individuals and families a reason to consider the importance of mental wellness.

“One out of five adults experience some form of mental illness each year,” explains Wade. “So, each of us likely has someone we know and love who is living with a significant mental health issue.”

“Unfortunately, less than half of those individuals actually seek professional help for their mental illness,” continues Wade, “and the consequences of those conditions not being treated show up in lost productivity in the workplace, increased hospitalizations, higher dropout rates, damaged relationships, and even death in some instances.” Wade points out that serious mental illness costs the United States more than $193 billion in lost earnings per year. He adds that adults living with a serious mental health issue face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions and typically die on average 25 years earlier than others.

“It’s incredibly important for individuals living with mental illness to get help,” says Wade. “Multiple studies have shown that early and effective treatment enables most people to lead healthy, happy and productive lives.”

Reducing stigma is another important part of the annual Mental Health Month observance, according to Wade. “Stigma is still a very real issue in our society,” Wade notes. “The perceptions of a person living with mental illness are generally negative and we must do a better job of challenging the stereotypes and labels that are often associated with mental disorders.”

“It’s important for each of us to educate ourselves about mental illness and to be mindful of the words we use when speaking about mental health issues,” adds Wade. “That level of acceptance and understanding is what will ultimately help us overcome stigma.”

Wade points out that local residents can actively participate in the “wear green” campaign on Friday, May 13 via social media. Anyone interested in being involved can wear green and post photos on either Facebook or Twitter using the hashtags: #NRVCSgreen #MentalHealthMonth.

NRVCS is the New River Valley’s public provider of behavioral health services. The agency serves children, adults and families living in the counties of Floyd, Giles, Pulaski and Montgomery, as well as the City of Radford. To learn more about local mental health resources, visit www.nrvcs.org or call 540-961-8400.