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County Proclaims May ‘Mental Health Awareness Month’

on May 3, 2017 - 12:54pm
Accepting the ‘May Is Mental Health Awareness Month’ proclamation at Tuesday's Council meeting, from left, John Whiteside, LAMC; Deni Fell, County; Carole Rutten, LANL; Christine Hazard, LAPS; Cindy Rooney, UNM-LA; Kim Gabaldon, County;  Mary Beth Maassen, LAMC; Olivia Ortega and Kristy Ortega, UWNNM; Fire Chief Troy Hughes; County Councilor Rick Reiss, Police CHief Dino Sgambellone and  Stephanie Koch, Mesa Vista Wellness. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost
UWNNM Executive Director Kristy Ortega speaks on behalf of the mental health awareness group initiative during Tuesday's Council meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost
At its meeting Tuesday evening in Council Chambers, the Los Alamos County Council issued a proclamation naming May as Mental Health Awareness Month.
Representatives were on hand from a wide vatiety of agencies and organizations including Self Help, Inc., LANL, LAFD and LAPD. Executive Director Kristy Ortega of United Way of Northern New Mexico spoke at the podium on behalf of the mental health awareness group initiative.
"When you or someone you love is dealing with a mental health concern, sometimes it’s a lot to handle," she said. "It’s important to remember that mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. We are seeing more and more celebrities talking about their mental illnesses publicly. This is progress. We all talk about our physical health, why not talk about our mental health?"
Ortega explained that this year, the call is to educate ourselves and others about habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves.
Activities like compulsive sex, recreational drug use, obsessive internet use, excessive spending, or disordered exercise patterns are just some of the behaviors that can disrupt someone’s mental health and potentially lead them down a path towards crisis.
Take action this month! Self Help, Inc. has created the Mental Health Access Point website that, in addition to many resources, hosts various self-screening tools. We are asking everyone in our community to self-screen this May. You may learn something about yourself or someone you know. Discuss what you learned with others, share information and resources together.
Visit, to screen today!
"The response to the website has been gratifying, and shows that our community has a need for mental health information and is reaching out,” Self Help Executive Director Ellen Morris. 
Mental Health Month was started 68 years ago by Mental Health America, to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone. This May we are encouraging people to educate themselves about behaviors and activities that could be harmful to recovery – and to speak up without shame so that others can learn if their behaviors are something to examine.
“It is important to understand early symptoms of mental illness and know when certain behaviors are potentially signs of something more,” United Way Executive Director Kristy Ortega said. 
“We need to speak up early and educate people about risky behavior and its connection to mental illness—and do so in a compassionate, judgement-free way. Prevention, early identification and intervention, and integrated services work. When we engage in prevention and early identification, we can help reduce the burden of mental illness by identifying symptoms and warning signs early—and provide effective treatment.”
Our Community is fortunate to have a range of programs and services that support mental health and well-being. Los Alamos County contracts a variety of socially-oriented organizations to provide a range of activities that promote well-being, such as the Los Alamos Teen Center and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.
“We’re delighted to be a partner in the United Way’s Behavioral Health Initiative,” said Social Services Division Manager Kim Gabaldon of Los Alamos County. “Supporting the mental health of residents also positively impacts the well-being of our larger community, and we do this pretty effectively through our partnerships with many agencies across the County.”
The County also coordinates monthly meetings of the Los Alamos Community Health Council, the local DWI Council, and covers behavioral health costs for low-income residents through its Health Care Assistance program.
For more information on these and other activities, call Social Services Division at 505.662.8068.
Many organizations throughout Los Alamos are using May to educate the community through various activities:
  • Screenagers Showing – Los Alamos Teen Center 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, (teenagers only); and
  • LANL – offering Adult Mental Health First Aid 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, June 5 and Wednesday, June 7. To learn more about this excellent 8-hour training, call the Laboratory OMBUDS Office at 505.665.2837.
For immediate support, remember that if you or a loved one is experiencing an emotional crisis, you can find help by calling the New Mexico Crisis and Access Line at: 1 (855) NMCRISIS (505.662.7474) NMCAL is toll free and is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; for more information about this group visit
The United Way of Northern New Mexico Behavioral Health(y) Community Initiative exists to Support a Behavioral Health(y) Community by working to provide resources, raise awareness, and normalize behavioral and mental health issues.