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Dignity Health Central Coast Recognizes May as National Mental Health Awareness Month


May is a time to raise awareness for those living with mental or behavioral health issues 

CENTRAL COAST, CA – May 13, 2022 – Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness, and more than 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. After two years of life during the COVID-19 pandemic, many are discovering that stress, isolation, and uncertainty have taken a toll on their well-being. 

In order to recognize the symptoms and seek appropriate treatment, Dignity Health Central Coast wants community members to be informed about the importance of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health. As an example, depression may increase the risk of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic health conditions can increase the possibility of mental illness.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation increased dramatically,” says David Ketelaar, MD, Marian Regional Medical Center Emergency Department. “The negative effect of this isolation on people’s mental health has been devastating. The local incidence of mental health conditions has increased in all age groups. We are now regularly treating children in their pre-teen years who are suffering from acute mental health crises in addition to larger numbers of adolescents and adults of all ages.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting effect on many. People are facing challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that stress can cause the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Nightmares or problems sleeping
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, or skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic health problems and mental health conditions
  • Increased use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription drugs 

It is important to avoid the historical stigma of suffering in silence. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health issue, seek care with a professional. Speak to a primary care doctor, and become educated about the care and support options available in our community, such as local therapists, support groups, private mental health treatment centers, county mental health clinics, and local affiliates of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  In addition, Dignity Health Central Coast hospital emergency departments are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for anyone experiencing an urgent crisis.

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About Dignity Health Central Coast 
Dignity Health Central Coast is comprised of five award-winning hospitals, all recognized for their quality of care, safety, and service, primary care offices, premier ambulatory surgery centers, technologically advanced imaging centers, outpatient services, and comprehensive home health services. For more information, visit dignityhealth.org/centralcoast.

Publish date: 

Monday, May 16, 2022

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