By OC Board Supervisor Lisa Bartlett

OC Supervisor Lisa Bartlett

We have all heard the saying “health is wealth.” Never has this saying been more relevant to our mental health and state of mind than it is now. It is ironic that this year, Mental Health Awareness Month falls at a time when our country is facing one of the most challenging health crises in its history.

The COVID-19 crisis has taken a significant toll on the mental health and well-being of our community. It has left many people feeling lonely, isolated, afraid and worried. These feelings are very real and can have a powerful impact on how we behave and relate to those we hold near and dear to our hearts. While physical distancing is vital as we navigate through these uncharted waters, self-care, healthy personal connections and resiliency have never been more important than right now.

May is Mental Health Awareness month–a time for us to shine a light on mental illness and empower those suffering from mental health and behavioral issues to seek care. This year’s theme, “Express yourself,” focuses on creative ways you can express yourself by exploring self-care and showing support to others throughout Mental Health Awareness Month.

Orange County’s Health Care Agency’s (HCA) Behavioral Health Services Division is ready, able, and willing to help. The Behavioral Health Services Division provides telephonic and telehealth services throughout its continuum of behavioral health care, in addition to crisis services. The division extended its hours and offers community educational resources to support all Orange County residents during this difficult time.

I encourage everyone to become familiar with available resources in order to expand their own knowledge on mental health. In addition to other local sites, the OC Health Care Agency and Be Well OC recently developed websites in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, providing information on behavioral health resources and self-care.

The Each Mind Matters website at eachmindmatters.org provides valuable information on mental health matters, educational resources and tips on how you can support mental health for all. The effects of self-expression and creativity on our mental health and well-being have been widely documented. Everyone can benefit from incorporating creative self-expression into their wellness routine. Tips on how you can incorporate self-expression into your wellness routine are available in the Each Mind Matters monthly activity guide.

Finally, in our continuing effort to reduce and eliminate the stigma associated with behavioral health conditions in Orange County, please remember the Stigma Free OC movement. There are steps that we can all take to educate ourselves and others about stigma related to mental illness and substance-use disorders, and show support to someone who is struggling. This effort to create stigma-free communities involves everyone, including any concerned individual; any organization, including businesses, schools, churches, etc.; and cities. Take a pledge of support today at stigmafreeoc.com in support of wellness and recovery for all.

We are all in this together and must care for ourselves and others.

Lisa Bartlett sits on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, representing the 5th District. She was reelected in 2018.

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