The event served to remind those facing mental and behavioral health challenges in the Rio Grande Valley that they are not alone.
Mental illness affects everyone, whether one of the 52.9 million adults in the U.S. living with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, or the relative or friend of someone struggling. Despite its prevalence, mental health still carries a stigma.
Fear of being perceived as “weak” or even being discriminated against can prevent people from reaching out for help. Part of South Texas Health System Behavorial’s mission is to remove the barriers for mental health care by breaking the stigma, offering community education and making treatment accessible.
In honor of National Mental Health Awareness month, on Thursday, May 12, STHS Behavioral invited local law enforcement and community leaders to come together for a special program and photo opportunity outside the facility as a show of support to those facing mental and behavioral challenges.
During the program, STHS Behavioral leaders discussed the prevalence of mental illness in the region and the importance of seeking support or treatment. “It’s so important for us to unite as a community to show that we are banding together to embrace mental health as something to be openly talked about,” STHS Behavioral Interim CEO Jessica Becker said. “Seeing so many officers from different police departments come out today gives me hope that we’re moving in the right direction and that when they encounter those experiencing a mental health crisis, the individuals will be treated with compassion and empathy. It’s extremely motivating for me to continue our journey and to keep reaching out and creating more beds and more opportunities for patients.”
Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza Jr., Edinburg Chief of Police Jaime Ayala, Pharr Police Department Mental Health Unit Sgt. Garcia, as well as other local law enforcement, county and city officials were in attendance and provided remarks, sharing the need to destigmatize mental health, with some even sharing their personal struggles.
Following the program, attendees banded together to form the shape of a ribbon for a group photo that will be shared across social media with the important message, “Together for Mental Health.”
STHS Behavioral is open 24/7 for anyone facing severe mental health challenges. Additionally, Becker says the facility can help those undergoing a mental health crisis connect with other resources, whether therapy or long-term programs.
STHS Behavioral offers inpatient, outpatient and specialty programs for individuals from the ages of 3 and up, as well as 24/7 free, confidential assessments.