Ask Beatty: May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

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Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949. It is a time to raise awareness about mental health issues and to help reduce the pain and stigma so many experience.

The reality is that we all go through lots of ups and downs in our life. No one is immune from life’s suffering and challenges, regardless of socioeconomic status, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. If you are struggling with depression or anxiety or other psychiatric problems that are getting in the way of your life and relationships, the very best thing that you can do is reach out and ask for help. You do not need to suffer alone in silence.

DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY

  1. In the past year among U.S. adults ages 18 or older, an estimated 21 million had at least one major depressive episode. This number represents 8.4% of all U.S. adults.
  2. The prevalence of major depressive episodes is higher among adult females (10.5%) compared to males (6.2%).
  3. The prevalence of major depressive episodes was highest among individuals ages 18–25 (21.0%), followed by those ages 45–64 (18.4%), 65 and over (18.4%) and those ages 30–44 (16.8%).
  4. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United states, affecting 40 million adults 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population, every year.
  5. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.

U.S. SUICIDE RATES

  1. In 2020, approximately 1.4 million adults 18 and older attempted suicide in the United States.
  2. Suicide rates for females are highest among those ages 45–54.
  3. Females attempt suicide three times as often as males.
  4. Lesbian, gay and bisexual children are three times more likely than straight children to attempt suicide at some point in their lives.
  5. Lesbian, gay and bisexual young people who come from families that reject or do not accept them are over eight times more likely to attempt suicide than those whose families accept them.
  6. Suicidal thoughts and gestures are the greatest predictors of suicide.
  7. In 2020, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10–14 and 25–34.
  8. Men and women between the ages of 45 and 64 are at the highest risk of suicide.

DOMESETIC VIOLENCE

  1. Every day, three American women are killed by their intimate partner.
  2. One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  3. According to the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey, (2019), about one in 12 high school students experienced physical and/or sexual dating violence.
  4. Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
  5. About 81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue.
  6. About 21% of college co-eds report having experienced dating abuse by a current partner.

Although the data and statistics are overwhelming, we fortunately, live in a community that offers help and guidance. For a complete list of community mental health resources in the Hamptons, go to ehamptonny.gov.

The East End has help available for mental health issues
The East End has help available for mental health issues

OUT EAST MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

THE RETREAT: The Retreat in East Hampton, headed by Loretta K. Davis and her staff of 67 employees and volunteers, has created a safe haven for people in our community faced with domestic violence and sexual assault.

It is the only agency serving the East End, providing free services and programs including a 24-hour hotline; counselors who are available for in-person, video or phone sessions; an 18-bed emergency shelter (more than 60% of its residents are under the age of 16); court advocacy; legal services; and prevention educational programs for children, teens and adults.

In the past year, 1,200 individuals utilized their direct services and they received 3,600 hotline calls and 8,400 inquiries during this same period. Their clients range from the families that arrive in the middle of the night with only the clothes on their backs, to the immigrant families who have no resources, to the young fathers who are determined to break the cycle of abuse by educating themselves in good parenting and relationship skills.

Their All Against Abuse Gala on June 4 is their biggest fundraiser of the year. Give generously if you can. And if you are in a domestic violent relationship, don’t hesitate to call their 24-hour hotline for immediate support at 631-329-2200.

FAMILY SERVICE LEAGUE: The Family Service League provides a broad array of outpatient and crisis intervention mental health and addiction services to individuals and their families. Call 631-324-3344 for info.

PHOENIX HOUSE: An addiction treatment center helping individuals rediscover their strength in dealing with substance abuse. Call 1-888-671-9392.

EAST HAMPTON HIGH SCHOOL, A SCHOOL COMMITTED TO STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH: As a former director of Greater Montreal’s School Social Services Program, I was curious to find out whether mental health was a priority in the Hampton schools. Due to time restraints, I was only able to meet with East Hampton High School’s new principal Sara Smith and her staff. I learned that the school’s mantra of “student and staff mental health and wellness come first” is demonstrated in their superb counseling and prevention programs.

The school currently has three school social workers and one school psychologist on staff. A social worker from Family Service League is in the school two days a week. Some students have counseling listed as a related service on their Individual Education Plan, while others are self-referred or referred by a parent, teacher or staff member. Assessments are done by the school social workers and psychologist. If students are having education-related problems, they would continue counseling with one of the in-house counseling staff.

If their issues are more severe, they are referred to outside therapists, including the Family Service League. I was very impressed with their prevention programs including Source of Strength, an evidence-based suicide prevention program; Healthy Relationships Don’t Hurt, a program conducted in collaboration with The Retreat; Break Free From Depression and a 5K May Day Run to end the stigma of mental health organized by two students who raised over $18,000 for Family Service League.

Let’s make a commitment to make mental health a priority in our lives 365 days of the year!

Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW, AASECT is a nationally recognized psychotherapist, sex therapist, author of For Better for Worse Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love, national speaker, national radio and television expert guest and host of the weekly “Ask Beatty Show” on the Progressive Radio Network. She has a private practice in NYC and East Hampton.

Beatty would love to hear from you. You can send your questions and comments to her at [email protected]. For more information, go to beattycohan.com.

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