Judge Wes Allen: Mental health is vital part of overall health


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is a vital part of overall health.

As Probate Judge of Pike County I interact weekly with families, various agencies, doctors and hospitals that seek to help those who suffer from mental illnesses. Mental illness effects many people throughout our state, so it is important to me and all probate judges throughout the state of Alabama to bring awareness to mental health.

Research indicates 1 in 4 adults experience mental health issues in a given year. Research also suggest that 1 in 17 people live with major depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Chronic mental illness can begin as early as the age of 14. Identifying the symptoms is the key. A problem that has been pinpointed would be the lengthy delays − occasionally decades − between the time symptoms first surface and when the individuals receive treatment.

Everyone should learn symptoms of mental illness. A great resource is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) which offers information at their website www.nami.org and HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). There are free education courses offered by NAMI for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

It is important to me to assist people to identify the early symptoms of mental illness. I encourage our communities to help end the silence and stigma around mental illness that discourages people from getting assistance. By working together we can make a significant positive impact in our communities.