DMH and Partners Announce ‘Think Again’ Campaign at Press Conference

Supporters gathered on the steps of the Mississippi Capitol on Tuesday, May 15 to hear a presentation from the Department of Mental Health, the State Department of Health, NAMI Mississippi, Mississippi Public Health Institute, and Mental Health Association of South Mississippi.

In recognition of May as Mental Health Month, those agencies launched a public awareness campaign titled “Think Again,” urging Mississippians to realize their mental health is an essential part of their overall health. Representatives from four of the agencies spoke at the event, sharing their message that our health and wellness includes not just physical health, but our mental health as well.

“Mental health is an important part of your overall health. People often talk about health and wellness, but we shouldn’t forget that includes maintaining good mental health too,” DMH Executive Director Diana Mikula said. “We talk about our physical health problems – our diet, our blood pressure, our heart rate. Topics like these come up in conversation all the time. Topics like stress, anxiety, and depression come up more rarely.

“We talk about our physical health problems. We should do the same with our mental health problems.”

Tameka Tobias, the Executive Director of NAMI Mississippi, a grassroots advocacy organization, noted that mental health issues affect one out of every five people in the country, but not everyone reaches out for the help they need.

“The stigma of mental illness – the fear, the shame, the silence that many people live with, is a major factor in why people don’t get the help they need,” she said. “We need communities to understand that mental health conditions are not character flaws or personal weaknesses. We need people to talk about and think again about their perception of mental health. It won’t change unless we all work to change it.”

Dr. Mary Currier, State Health Officer drove home the fact that mental health is part of your overall health.

“They go hand in hand. It’s part of the whole. You don’t divide yourself up into physical and mental health. You just don’t. You go through the day and everything you do affects who you are and what you do. Your physical and mental health are all a part of the whole,” she said.

She also noted that common mental health issues like high stress levels are linked to common health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. She said that people who are chronically stressed or depressed have a greater risk of physical illness.

“Focusing on both mental and physical health can help someone achieve overall wellness. You can’t have overall wellness without having both physical and mental health,” Dr. Currier said.

As the campaign progresses, the partners will be reaching out to local business groups, civic groups, faith-based organizations, and hospitals and other health agencies to help spread the message that mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. Roy Hart, Executive Director of Mississippi Public Health Institute, said that this collaboration brought together state agencies, advocacy groups and nonprofits all working together to promote healthy and active living for all mississippians.

“We’re launching Think Again in May, which is recognized throughout the country each year as mental health month, a time to focus on mental health and the issues faced by people with mental health,” Hart said. “This month is a perfect opportunity to ask people to think again about their mental health. As the campaign progresses, this is what we’ll be asking Mississippians to do.”