Experts emphasize difficult conversations during Mental Health Awareness Month

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month and advocates say it’s a time to shine a light on the resources available and that it is okay to ask for help.

The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation said mental health impacts all kinds of people and a problem might not be visible.

“There is hope, there is help,” said Molly Mottram, the Associate Director of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. 

She said May is a time to have important conversations about mental health.

“I think what’s really important is that mental health, it can impact anybody no matter what your race, gender or background is,” Mottram said. “And so having a month, an entire month dedicated to having these really important conversations just allows us to kind of break down barriers around stigma, around mental health, because there’s still a lot of stigma associated.”

Mottram said on average five people in Ohio die by suicide every day.

OSPF has people across the state training others how to identify warning signs. She said their goal is to connect people struggling with the services that will best help their needs. 

She said one of the most convenient is the suicide call and text hotline at 988.

“They’re a trained counselor for the 988 line and they’re going to walk through what, you know, even if it’s, even if you’re having a just a bad day and you need somebody to talk to, that person’s on the other line to kind of talk you through that bad day,” Mottram said.

She said as of the end of 2023, the hotline received between 10,000 and 12,000 calls and texts a month in Ohio.

“So, that means people are using the hotline,” Mottram said. “It means that people know that there’s a resource available, but there’s still work to be done. We’re here to help. And this is at the end of the day, it’s hope work. And we just want people to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And May is a great month to be able to highlight having these important conversations.”

OSPF said from 2020 to 2022, more than 17,000 people in Ohio were trained in recognizing signs of suicidal thoughts and how best to respond.

If you or someone you know is struggling you can call or text 988. You can also call OSPF at 614-429-1528 to be connected with more resources.