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Five Ways to Talk About Mental Health, According to Dr. Quist

This month we are observing Mental Health Awareness Month and continuing to create a safe space for individuals to talk about their mental health struggles and triumphs. Ryan Quist, Ph.D., is the Behavioral Health Services Director in Sacramento County. He is especially interested in mental health and substance abuse services for individuals who are involved in the justice system and experiencing homelessness. He encourages individuals to seek services and support to prevent psychiatric hospitalizations and to help them in their recovery journey. He is also dedicated to supporting the youth in the foster care system and who are involved with justice system by promoting field and school-based services among these groups. If you or someone you know is encountering mental health issues, here are five ways you can start the conversation and support people living with mental illness during Mental Health Awareness Month, and always:

  1. Share your Experiences with Others
    The best way to talk about your mental health is to start a conversation with friends and/or loved ones who may have gone through the same experiences as you. Sharing your thoughts and experiences can lead to more open and honest conversations about mental health and help foster a new understanding about the need to support one another’s health and wellness.
  2. Read Stories from Stop Sigma Speakers Bureau
    If you are wondering where to begin when it comes to discussing your own mental health journey or you need guidance in discussing your feelings with loved ones, Sacramento County has a collection of real, first-hand stories of everyday people from the community who are living with, or supporting someone living with, a mental health condition. By telling their stories, our Speakers Bureau members aim to inspire hope, wellness, recovery and positivity for families and individuals experiencing mental illness.
  3. Get Out in the Community
    To continue increasing awareness about the importance of mental health, we need to do our part in trying to stop the stigmas that surround the topic. The best way to begin doing so is to get out into the community and spread the word. The Sacramento community has an upcoming event at the State Capitol for Mental Health Matters Day where the “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project will be displaying art work created by residents living with mental illness, or who support others that might be living with mental illness. All art displayed is used to help dispel myths and stereotypes about mental illness and promote messages of wellness, hope, and recovery. Come out on May 24, 2023, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., to help us fight the stigma and promote awareness.
  4. Learn the Signs
    When people are struggling with their mental health, it isn’t always obvious. Warning signs may appear in conversations, through actions or in social media posts. Check out the Know the Signs campaign to learn more about the signs to look for in someone who may be experiencing emotional pain, and share it with your friends and family so they too can learn more about when to step in and speak up. Suicide is preventable and by knowing the signs, we can help save lives.
  5. Find Helpful Resources
    Professional resources can help to aid, guide, and support your mental health journey. When support and proper treatment are not provided or attainable, it drives some to depend on less functional habits of coping with their emotional pain. Having a strong support system and access to the proper resources can help one’s mental health journey significantly, especially if you are trying to help someone in your life who is living with a mental illness.  

It is important when observing Mental Health Awareness Month to remember to have conversations with the people in your life to prioritize mental health. The more we talk about it, the less stigmatized the topic will become. Remember, mental illness is treatable, and recovery is possible.