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Many resources available during Mental Health Month

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services stands with mental health advocates and organizations in recognizing May as Mental Health Month.

Observed nationally since 1949 and traditionally symbolized by a green ribbon, the mental health awareness effort sets a goal to combat stigma and provide support and education on mental illness. It also aims to draw attention to suicide, which can be brought on by mental illness, in the hopes of further development of suicide prevention strategies.

During the COVID-19 crisis, mental health increasingly has become a focus. In response, information about available mental health resources can be found through the state’s Stay Home, Stay Well initiative. These efforts are to help build resilience in Michigan residents trying to cope emotionally with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and include links to crisis help lines, guidance documents, videos and other mental health resources at Michigan.gov/StayWell.

Almost one in five Americans has some form of mental illness, yet these conditions often are stigmatized and treated differently from physical health conditions.

All Michiganders are encouraged to observe Mental Health Month by reaching out to talk to those who may be struggling or feel isolated. Human contact can make a difference, even if that contact needs to be done virtually.

As part of this effort, a new service has been launched by the MDHHS as part of its Stay Home, Stay Well initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By texting the keyword RESTORE to 741741, Michigan residents can have a confidential text conversation with a crisis counselor.

Trained counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to texts from Michigan residents who are facing a mental health crisis — everything from anxiety and financial issues to suicide and domestic violence. While the text line is starting during the pandemic, MDHHS intends to continue offering the service in the future.

The text line is provided by Crisis Text Line, an organization established in 2013 that has provided this type of support on an international level with the recognition that with new technologies, texting is a fast and easy way to connect and may be the preferred way for some people who need immediate support.

As part of Michigan’s partnership with Crisis Text Line, people who text RESTORE to 741741 will receive referrals to local mental health resources and connections. Crisis texts are confidential, but this partnership also will provide the state with broad trends to understand the need for any additional services.

MDHHS has expanded mental health resources as residents face greater stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other parts of the Stay Home, Stay Well efforts include:

— The Headspace website, which provides free, evidence-based guided meditations. It includes at-home workouts that guide people through mindful exercise, a type of meditation in which participants focus on being intensely aware of what they are sensing and feeling in the moment; sleep assistance; and children’s content to help address rising stress and anxiety. The resource is free and available to the public. Go to headspace.com/MI.

— The National Suicide Prevention hotline. People considering suicide are urged by MDHHS to contact the or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 800-273-8255.

— The Disaster Distress Helpline for anyone in distress pertaining to the COVID-19 crisis. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 800-985-5990.

— The statewide “Warmline” for Michiganders living with persistent mental health conditions connects people with certified peer support specialists who have lived experiences of behavioral health issues, trauma or personal crises and are trained to support and empower the callers. The warmline operates seven days a week from 10 to 2 a.m. at 888-PEER-753 (888-733-7753).

Additional information about all of these resources can be found on the MDHHS Stay Home, Stay Well webpage, www.michigan.gov/staywell.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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