Mental Health: Let’s Talk About It!

mentalhealthawareDid you know that one in four of us will have some kind of mental illness in our lifetime?

Yeah, I was surprised too. I think that might be because mental illness is one of those topics that still make people pretty uncomfortable to talk about–so we don’t. We keep it under wraps.

But we shouldn’t! One in four of us? That’s a lot of us! My own family has four people in it…and if one of us had a serious physical health or medical condition, I’d certainly be talking about it with them–as well as with my friends and extended family. And I’d be finding out as much as I could about the condition, and finding out where I could reach out for support–both informal and professional support.Make-it-OK-Infographic-r2

So, since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s do the same thing with mental illness…let’s talk about it…let’s get it out there in the open and learn from each other…let’s support each other…and let’s get rid of all those awkward feelings around talking about it!

But Kassie [you might be thinking]…it’s not comfortable–and even if I WANT to talk about it…that doesn’t mean I know HOW to go about doing that.

Hmm. Good point.

So…what CAN you do to get more comfortable talking about mental illness?

Well, I know that my own reluctance to talk about something often comes from not knowing what to say. So…let’s begin by learning more about it:

The infographic at the right, which was put together by makeitok.org, and this link to their website, are two great ways to get started.

Here are a few other sites that talk about mental illness as well as ways to support your loved ones:

(The views expressed on any external websites do not necessarily represent those of Bridges of Hope.)

And finally, I have found that when I just start talking about my own family’s experiences with mental illness–even when it’s a little uncomfortable at first–some of that discomfort goes away, and some of the stigma about mental illness goes away with it.

That’s all it takes, really–each of us, talking just a little more than we do now…reaching out to each other, and sharing our own experiences.

So let’s do it–together!

At Bridges of Hope, we can help you get connected to a local mental health counselor. Call our office at 218.825.7682 and speak with one of our staff today.

 

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Is AmeriCorps VISTA Right for You?

AmericorpsVISTA50yrs2015Bridges of Hope is looking for a VISTA Member–a full-time volunteer who serves through AmeriCorps, to assist our organization with some very cool projects from August 2015-July 2016.

VISTA is often described as the “domestic version of the PeaceCorps,” and is a national service program that Bridges has successfully participated in over the course of several years of our organization’s history. The focus of VISTA is on reducing and eliminating poverty.

It can be a great opportunity for recent college grads looking to gain experience in the human services field, and it is also an opportunity for recent retirees looking for a way to give back to their community—as well as for many others in-between these two poles of life!

Here’s what Jacklin, a former AmeriCorps member–and current Bridges of Hope staff–had to say about her experience with VISTA:

After spending almost 2 years as an out-of-state AmeriCorps member, I was eventually placed in Deerwood, MN, where I finished up and entered the “real” world. Those years as a VISTA are what prepared me for where I am now, three years later. It not only gave me that on-the-job training that’s so vital, but it also taught me life skills that I needed. I learned how expensive and limited housing options can be, especially when choosing to do something as “crazy” as having a dog! I learned how to live on a very small budget and what things were absolutely needed and what I could live without. I learned what things were out there that I could ask for help with – and I learned how it felt to ask for help.

The experience allowed me to start realizing what priorities meant the most to me and that there were consequences to those choices. My AmeriCorps time put me in a position that I had never been in before. It’s because of those experiences that I feel I could better relate to the people I would eventually work with. It’s allowed me to pose the question, “what would I have done?” and I can draw on actual experience as I think about it.

Looking back, those were definitely some hard years that I’m still making up for (hello, credit card bill!), but I wouldn’t have changed or replaced them for anything. I got to travel to places that I would never have otherwise. I got to meet some of the greatest people, and I now spend my vacation time going back to see old co-workers. If you’re looking for a challenge with great rewards and a little life experience thrown in, then I would definitely recommend AmeriCorps VISTA!

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Do you know someone looking for this kind of life-changing experience, or might YOU be that person? Bridges of Hope is currently seeking an AmeriCorps VISTA Member to assist our organization with a threefold project over the course of one year (August 2015 – July 2016). This is a fantastic professional development opportunity to grow your resume, give back to your community, expand your network, and gain experience within the nonprofit/human services sector!

For more information and to apply, visit http://bit.ly/bohvista. We will be accepting applications through the end of May 2015.

**New: effective May 3, 2015, VISTA members are now permitted to hold part-time employment outside of their VISTA assignment. More information is available upon request.