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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Release Date: April 29, 2021

In the United States, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The month of May will focus on mental health awareness and minimizing the feeling of shame that may be associated with mental illness.

According to the CDC, mental illnesses are “conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.  Such conditions may be occasional or long-lasting and affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day.”

The County of Sussex and the Sussex County Mental Health Board/Local Advisory Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse have embraced the Change Direction Campaign.  The campaign is a national initiative to change the culture of mental health in America so that all in need receive the care and support they deserve.  The campaign encourages all people to pay attention to their emotional well-being and reminds us that our emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being.

The campaign strives to educate the community on knowing the five signs that might mean someone (or yourself) needs assistance and to reduce the stigma often associated with mental health so that people are as comfortable talking about mental health as they are about physical health.  Considering statistics that suggest as many as one in four individuals will experience a mental health event at some time in their life, we all need to know the five signs, how to offer help, and where to get help.

The five signs are:

Personality Change:  Sudden or gradual changes in the way someone typically behaves.

Agitation:  When someone seems uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated or moody.

Withdrawal:  Withdrawn or isolated from other people, pulling away from family and friends.

Poor Self-Care:  Has stopped taking care of themselves and may engage in risky behavior.

Hopelessness:  Seems overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by their circumstances.

Since its adoption in 2017 by the Sussex County Board of County Commissioners, the Sussex County Division of Community and Youth Services has worked with many partners including Newton Medical Center, Behavioral Health and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to promote the Change Direction Campaign, a mental health education and awareness message, at various events in the county.

If you are interested in learning more about the Change Direction Campaign, you can find more information at or call Cindy Armstrong, Mental Health Administrator, at 973-940-5200, ext. 1371.

Change Direction