Employees of the Behavioral Health Unit participated in a “Chalk the Walk” event on Friday to spread awareness for suicide prevention week, which is Sept. 5 through 11.

Encouraging messages were written around Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville to uplift anyone walking past.

Cynthia Dame, the nursing director for the unit, said the idea was to bring recognition to the community about the stigmas related to mental health and suicide.

“Bringing awareness to it makes it is easier for you to seek treatment and breaking those stigmas,” she said.

Clinical Coordinator for the unit Brad Long said mental health is on the rise, as well as the stigmas that are associated with it. He said a lot of people struggle with mental health, but never talk about it because it is seen as a weakness by society.

“Mental health is seen as though you are not strong or you can’t deal with life’s circumstances when in reality mental health is very common,” said Long. “We want people to know that it is not a weakness, it is actually a sign of strength if you reach out for help because it is not something a lot of people want to talk about.”

He said mental health is not just suicidal thoughts, but it can be any issue a person has with their mental state like depression or anxiety. It does not have to reach a crisis point before asking for help.

“We encourage people not to wait for it to become a crisis to reach out for help,” said Long.

The Behavioral Health Unit does have adult and geriatric units available and offers inpatient therapy and treatment, said Dame. Patients stay in the adult unit completing inpatient therapy anywhere from five to seven days before being referred to outpatient therapy.

Long said the specific services the unit offers include two psychiatrists, a nurse practitioner, nursing staff, mental health technicians, multiple behavioral health therapists, and recreation therapists who provide coping skills and tools to deal with the behavior. There is also a dietitian and a Chaplin who offer alternative ways to deal with overwhelming emotions.

The Behavioral Health Unit is there to offer any help a person might need, and if the unit can’t help, then they can point people in the right direction, he said.

“They can call us, we will walk with them through whatever process they need to be walked through,” said Long.

Dame and Long are hoping that the more awareness people have about mental health and know what services are available to them the more people will reach out for help.

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