Avera Medical Minute AMcK: HeARTS in Healing fundraiser raises mental health awareness

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They’re our neighbors, our family and our friends. Behavioral health issues affect everyday people. And the numbers are staggering.

“If we just look at depression and anxiety, it’s about one in five Americans that will have that over the course of their lifetime. And then if we throw in substance abuse, one in seven Americans will struggle with some type of substance abuse issues,” said Dr. Matt Stanley, psychiatrist and VP of Avera Behavioral Health Service Line.

But help is available. However, asking if often the hardest part.

“Many people are just afraid that they’re going to be misunderstood, that they’re going to be made to feel guilty or feel shameful or they’re afraid they’re letting down their parents or their spouse or their children,” said Dr. Stanley.

So how do we as friends and family help those struggling or hurting?

“I think the greatest thing you can do is just encourage loved ones to not be afraid to talk about mental health issues, just like we talk about other health issues. In my mind as a physician and psychiatrist, they are one in the same. This is a medical disease. And I realize a lot of people struggle with that concept,” said Dr. Stanley.

“It’s important to have that multi-disciplinary approach. When we work together in terms of therapy and mediation treatment, that produces the best outcomes,” said Ben Kohls, Avera Behavioral Health Therapist.

It’s through events like the ‘HeARTS in Healing’ fundraiser that people can better understand behavioral health issues.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to come in and see that this is a beautiful modern facility. It’s like any other hospital, nicer than many. And I think in that way, it shows not only Avera’s commitment to treating behavioral health but just that we do recognize behavioral health issues as we recognize heart disease or any other medical concern,” said Dr. Stanley.

“Anything that we can do to reduce stigma by making that a more acceptable, more understandable need, the better,” said Kohls.

The ‘HeARTS in Healing’ fundraiser is this Saturday evening at 6 o’clock at the Avera Behavioral Health Center. Wine and h’orderves will be served along with a silent auction. The proceeds go towards services and activities for Avera Behavioral Health patients.

For more information, just call 877-AT-AVERA.