Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Importance Emphasized at Health Fair

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Importance Emphasized at Health Fair
(L-R) Clinical Social Workers Janelle Brock (Grand Island VA) and Tara Lawrence (Lincoln VA) visit with patrons during the September 8 Healthcare on the Square event in Broken Bow.

BROKEN BOW—The Melham Medical Center Healthcare on the Square event took place on September 8 and featured local experts on a variety of healthcare topics. In addition to stroke education, senior living, physical therapy, and lung health among others, mental health was also an important component of the event “designed to inspire healthy living through quality care.”

Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner and Certified Professional Counselor Breanna Kaup of Nebraska Integral Wellness in Broken Bow told KCNI/KBBN there is sometimes a stigma around mental health, but there does not need to be.

Kaup said in addition to the option of seeing a mental health therapist in person, there are several things people can do to focus on their stress management from home: focusing on time management, exercise, being kind to yourself, prioritizing sleep and rest, and calming the nervous system.

For those wanting to see a therapist in person, Kaup said you can call any time you feel you need extra support.

“If you are struggling with something and you are wanting some extra support for your mental health you can call—it can be the littlest thing or it can be something major happening in your life. I think the point where you just feel like you can’t do it alone anymore is always a good time to reach out for extra help,” Kaup said.

Included in the realm of mental health is suicide prevention. Representatives from Nebraska’s Veterans Affairs spoke to KCNI/KBBN about the importance of the new 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The 1-800-273-TALK (8255) phone number is still in operation but the new 9-8-8 number is more accessible and easier to utilize, according to Clinical Social Workers Janelle Brock (Grand Island VA) and Tara Lawrence (Lincoln VA).

Brock and Lawrence said after dialing one of the aforementioned crisis numbers and then pressing 1, callers can receive crisis services designed specifically for veterans.

“We want to make sure we reduce the risk of veteran suicide nationally and also in the general population. VA does takes a public health approach to suicide prevention because it’s a problem for a lot of different age groups,” Brock and Lawrence told KCNI/KBBN.

The VA clinical social workers said veterans and anyone struggling with their mental health or not feeling good about themselves should call the crisis line.

The new 988 suicide prevention lifeline became active in July and in his weekly column, Governor Pete Ricketts said the number is patterned after 911 and gives callers a simple, easy-to-remember number to dial for assistance during a mental health crisis.

The column continued by saying,

“While it can be hard to start conversations about mental health, talking about mental illness can be lifesaving. It is never too early to seek assistance for mental health concerns—either for yourself or someone you love. Use your eyes, ears, and heart to be alert for signs of mental distress. These can include:

*Expressions of hopelessness about the future
*Display of severe or overwhelming emotional pain
*Marked changes in behavior, such as:
Isolation or withdrawal from social connections
*Changes in sleep patterns (increased or decreased)
*Anger or hostility that seems out of context or uncharacteristic
*Increased agitation or irritability