Wednesday, May 22, 2024


I doubt many writers enjoy seeing titles of their work duplicated, but I hope to see similar titles consuming paper and digital news feeds. If you have not yet heard, then let me be the first to tell you that May is Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM).

Established in 1949, MHAM raises awareness for mental health and wellness and helps reduce stigma around behavioral health issues. I plan to do my part to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and provide support opportunities for my Veteran community.

Speaking of community, I serve not only my Veteran community but the entire community in a professional capacity. I am also part of the community as a Veteran and resident. The prov­erb about “it takes a village…” refers to a network of individuals coming together to achieve mutually beneficial goals. I believe commu­nity is important and mental health (awareness, wellness, and eliminating stigma) is vital to our community.

So, I will use this week as a primer for educa­tion and efforts within our community regarding mental health. I recently heard a comment which I’ll paraphrase, “mental health is not a personal weakness, it is a medical condition”. The im­mense strength (mental and physical) required to recover from a physical injury like a broken leg is also necessary for mental health conditions.

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression, substance use, thoughts of suicide, or any other mental health concerns, then please talk to someone. If you are a Veteran, then you understand the importance of a team. There is a fireteam (or battalion, if necessary) standing by to support you. There is no shame in asking for help when it comes to saving a life. Every person in our community is important.

I will be participating in an upcoming event. From their flyer, Love Life presents Two Har­bors Suicide Awareness Walk. A community event to remember loved ones and break the stig­ma about suicide and mental health. The event is being held at Lakeview Park (1st Street and 3rd Avenue in Two Harbors) on May 18, 2024, from 9:00 – 11:00 AM. Mental Illness… once we change the “I” in Illness to “We”, we have Wellness. Please consider coming out to join the community and support the cause.

If you or a loved one is struggling or in crisis, then remember the 988 Lifeline. Anyone may call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for free and confi­dential emotional support. You may even call to make a referral or request support for someone else. Dial or text 988 and Veterans dial 988 (then press 1) or text 838255.

Brad Anderson and Melissa Crandall are the Lake County Veterans Service Officers and can be reached at 218.834.8326 or cvso@co.lake.mn.us  

Karen Christianson is the Cook County Veterans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us

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