Commentary: Mental Health Awareness Month a time for reflection

May is Mental Health Awareness month, which is also a time for increased awareness of addiction and substance abuse. As we see so often at Brandywine Counseling and Community Services, many confronting substance abuse challenges are also dealing with mental health issues. According to a National Institutes of Health article, “about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance abuse disorder and vice versa.”

This isn’t surprising. As the article points out, many of the risk factors for mental health and substance abuse are the same, and the two diseases can contribute to each other. At BCCS, we take an integrated approach to helping our clients through substance abuse and mental health challenges. We treat the whole person. We believe that is the best way we can help them stabilizes their lives, and to provide the support necessary for a successful future.

Lynn Morrison, Ph.D.

Our evidence-based, client-centered treatment programs begin with an assessment. It is important to know if co-occurring disorders exist because each disorder can cause symptoms impacting the other disorder.

Mental Health Awareness Month reminds us that behavioral health issues — including substance abuse and addiction — are diseases that need to be treated the same as any other disease, with compassionate, appropriate care. Through a progressive approach to treatment and intervention — including community-based counseling, medication-assisted treatment, needle exchange programs and other outreach programs — BCCS offers hope to those with behavioral health issues.

Just as there are many pathways to substance abuse and addiction, there are many pathways to recovery. Our job is to be there, welcoming our clients with an array of programs that provide support, hope and an open door to recovery. Of course, a comprehensive approach to any disease — including behavioral health – includes education, prevention, early intervention, treatment and support.

At BCCS, our mission is to help our communities flourish. We work with the entire community because behavioral health issues do not differentiate social classes, and neither can prevention and treatment. Our programs contribute to healthier, stronger and safer communities. But, as a nonprofit, community-based organization, our success is dependent upon the community’s support.

I hope you’ll take Mental Health Awareness Month as an invitation to learn more about BCCS at BrandywineCounseling.com, and as an opportunity to support our efforts to strengthen our communities.

Lynn Morrison, Ph.D. is CEO of Brandywine Counseling and Community Services, with an office in Milford.

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