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Howard County Responds to COVID-19 Pandemic with “Let’s Talk About Mental Health” Campaign

September 17, 2020

Media Contact:
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412
 
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – County Executive Ball and the Howard County Health Department have introduced a new campaign, “Let’s Talk About Mental Health,” intended to promote mental and behavioral health resources and referral services available in the County. The ongoing challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have emphasized the importance of mental wellness and increased the importance of the services available through the Health Department. Video of the event can be found here, and pictures can be found here.

“We are facing a multitude of crises at the current moment, and the effects have impacted the mental health of our residents,” said Ball. “COVID-19 has created significant mental health challenges for all demographics – isolation, anxiety, financial hardship, fear for the well-being of friends and family – these challenges are more easily overcome if openly discussed with a trusted family member, friend, mental health professional. Together, we can battle the stigma surrounding mental health, and it starts by knowing it’s ok to ask for help.”

Anyone struggling with their mental health, or other behavioral health issues, should be aware that they can safely contact the Howard County Behavioral Health team at 410-313-6202 for help locating the resource or professional help appropriate for that situation.

This campaign is also intended to encourage honest and open conversation among youth and adults about mental health and any ongoing struggles. Stigma is often identified as a key barrier to seeking help with a mental health challenge, but finding a trusted family member, friend, or mental health professional to confide in, rather  than suffering in silence, can be an important step in improving one’s mental health.
 
“The most important message to take away from this campaign is that talking about these issues can save lives,” said Howard County Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman. “We are living in a difficult time that has only amplified the mental health challenges that many are facing, but there is always someone out there you can talk to if you are struggling. Mental health problems can be hard to clearly define, but no matter the challenge you or a loved one are facing, our Behavioral Health staff are waiting for your call and prepared to direct you to the resource you need.”

During late June, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact the country, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics estimated that more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults (36.1%) were suffering from symptoms of anxiety disorder in late July; during January-June 2019, 8.2% of U.S. adults reported experiencing those same symptoms.

“The Howard County Health Department Bureau of Behavioral Health is a key resource to link individuals who are in need of mental health services to care. We hope that this campaign and reduced stigma surrounding mental health will encourage more people to call and take advantage of the many services available,” said Roe Bonaccorsy, Director of the Bureau of Behavioral Health in the Howard County Health Department.

"A new crisis needs new coping strategies, and this pandemic certainly required new changes. Talking to others gave me the encouragement to redefine my needs and ask for help," said Debbie Meyer, Community Member.

Howard County Health Department and Howard County Government successfully developed and launched a Youth Suicide Prevention Plan in February 2019, called “It’s OK to ASK.” More information about the Howard County Youth Suicide Prevention Plan can be found at www.TeenHealthMatters.org.   

For more information about the “Let’s Talk About Mental Health” campaign, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/gethelp or call 410-313-6202. Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis should contact the Grassroots Hotline for 24/7 assistance at 410-531-6677. 

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