Mental Health Awareness – #SilencetheShameTN: To Your Health by Lori Stambaugh, RN BSN, Community Health Educator

One in five people will suffer from mental illness or substance abuse during their lifetime.  “Behavioral health” refers to both psychiatric and substance abuse, and people with these health issues suffer from either or both. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of those with a mental health disorder don’t seek help, typically because of the stigma associated with these issues. If you have a family member or friend who has a behavioral health disorder, you can play an important role by supporting and standing by them throughout their recovery.

Many of the signs of mental illness and substance abuse are the same. They include:

  • Avoiding people and normal activities
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Decreased energy
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Loss of interest in grooming
  • Feeling helpless or numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Fighting with loved ones
  • Experiencing severe mood swings
  • Having persistent thoughts
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming themselves, or others

If a friend or family member is showing signs of mental illness or addiction, you can offer support by:

  • Treating them with respect, compassion, and empathy
  • Reminding them that mental health and abuse problems can be treated
  • Expressing your concern and desire to get them help
  • Offering to help your loved one with everyday tasks
  • Including your loved one in your plans, even if they reject your invitations
  • Educating family members and friends so they understand the facts about mental health problems and do not discriminate
  • Finding out if the person is getting the care that he or she needs and wants—if not, connect him or her to help

Talking to your loved one about behavioral health problems can be difficult. One of the most important ways you can help a loved one is by connecting them to professionals that can help with their treatment and recovery. Talk to your healthcare provider about resources that you can tap into to get your loved one the help they need. You can also reach out using a toll-free, confidential hotline with trained resources available 24/7, 365 days a year to help with behavioral health issues:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress for you or your loved one.
  • Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) provides support to help anyone experiencing a mental health crisis (1-855-CRISIS or 1-855-274-7471. All calls are routed to a trained crisis specialist in your area. You can also text TN to 741741 to connect to the crisis text line.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (1-800-662-HELP) is a free referral service that can help you find the resources you need for recovery.

May is Mental Health Awareness month and Henry County Medical Center has several activities planned throughout the month of May to raise awareness and help stop the stigma surrounding mental health.

  • Tune in to our “Silence the Shame” video series for a new video each Tuesday in May to learn about resources in our area, as well as powerful testimonials from people in our community who have turned mental health struggles into stories of encouragement and hope.
  • May 4:  Lunch to Learn Facebook Live with HCHC Activities as 12 Noon as they discuss Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day and what they have done to assist residents during the past year manuvering through COVID-19, isolation from family, and the mental changes they faced during this time.
  • May 7: Join us at Kroger or Lakeway IGA from 8 A.M.-12 Noon for handouts and freebies for Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day.
  • May 9-15 is Prevention Week, so we will be partnering with Henry County High School to promote all things prevention and mental health.
  • May 14 is Wear Green Day for mental health awareness! Take a picture with your business, workplace, friends, and family and share it on social media with #SilencetheShameTN.
  • May 13-15: Go take your photo at Eiffel Tower Park to see it lit up green in support of Mental Health Awareness Month. Make sure to share your photos on social media with #SilencetheShameTN.
  • May 20: Come on out to Eiffel Tower Park at 12 noon for “Yoga in the Park.” Have a relaxing lunch break to reduce stress with yoga instruction by Brittany Kalas, get some freebies, and even a free iced coffee from Sweet Jordan’s food truck!
  • May 21: Tune in at 12 Noon to our “You Are the One in 2021” video for May with Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Ali Miller of Lake Haven Behavioral Center, and learn how to stress less and cope with daily stressors and anxiety.

Additionally, every Tuesday in May, HCMC will be showcasing a new video produced by Crove Media in our video series entitled #SilencetheShameTN that features both services available for behavioral health as well as personal stories from every day individuals who have suffered with mental health or substance abuse issues.  Watch the introductory video to the series here:  There will also be TikTok videos produced by youth in our service ara that will be published every #TikTokThursday, so watch for those as well.

If you can help us by also completing the following survey about mental health awareness by Friday, May 7, it will help us be able to continue to educate and make strides in mental health access in our community, the collaberative would be appreciative:

For questions about any of these events or help connecting you to a mental health provider, call our HCMC Findline at 731-644-3463 or visit our website at