May is Mental Health Awareness Month

It can be difficult to tell the difference between expected behaviors and possible signs of a mental health condition.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there’s no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness.

In an effort to bring attention to the importance of mental health, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing observes Mental Health Awareness Month each year in May.

The national event is to help raise awareness in our own communities, and it’s an opportunity to spread the word.

Key findings of The State of Mental Health in America 2023 report show 21% of adults are experiencing a mental illness, which is equivalent to 50 million Americans. Also, 60% of youth with major depression do not receive mental health treatment.

In Indiana, 32.9% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder from Feb. 1 to 13, 2023, in comparison to 32.3% of adults in the United States, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, an independent source for health policy research.

Mental illnesses can be acute or chronic and are diagnosable conditions that affect an individual’s emotional, psychological and social well-being and often their behavior. Just a few of these conditions include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and mood or personality disorders, according to

Lindsay Sarver is the community health improvement strategist for Schneck Medical Center’s Healthy Jackson County Mental Health and Substance Use Taskforce.

Sarver said with the loss of the local Mental Health America office in Jackson County last year, there is not an official Mental Health Awareness Month event calendar this year.

“However, we will be highlighting different organizations and continuing to discuss mental health matters this month in our workgroups and in the community,” she said. “This month will be a big one for funding announcements around mental health and substance use discussions.”

Sarver mentioned a couple of highlights of Jackson County happenings, and she’s happy to share Healthy Jackson County is getting some new partners.

“Catholic Charities of Indianapolis has hired and will be offering master’s-level therapists in Schneck Primary Care to address mental health concerns affecting adults with opioid use disorder,” she said. “This is a grant-funded initiative through Healthy Jackson County and the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction.”

Sarver said those therapists expect to see their first patients before the end of the month.

“Molly Marshall with Purdue Extension is doing some great work in the schools with the Hope Squad for mental health support and suicide prevention,” she said. “Healthy Jackson County recently submitted a grant to expand that program into three other schools beginning this fall.”

Medora will be hiring a full-time mental health counselor for its school through a grant obtained earlier this spring, and that person is scheduled to start this fall.

HJC recently hosted a conversation in Medora with Healthy Jackson County and Centerstone through a Leadership Jackson County project to discuss mental health matters in rural communities.

“We had a powerful Mental Health Summit back on Feb. 16 at Pyoca Retreat Center and Camp with about 60 community leaders in attendance, including Gov. Holcomb’s representative, Douglas Huntsinger,” Sarver said. “That summit launched our joint application with roughly 20 participating nonprofit and local government organizations for the Opioid Settlement Grant.”

The summit also launched another application for the Behavioral Health Workforce Initiative with another roughly 20 organizations seeking to improve retention, capacity and opportunity for Jackson County, she said.

“I can’t say enough good things about the cooperative spirit and drive of our nonprofit and local leaders to find real and practical ways to support mental health for everyone, including new moms, students and the justice-affected communities,” Sarver said. “It was an honor to write on their behalf and to represent their interests.”

She said people often say “Mental health is physical health,” and Healthy Jackson County and Schneck recognize mental health affects and is affected by our physical health and our environment. Everything we do must always come from a mindset that our mental health and physical health are inextricably intertwined, she said.

“From taking healthy walks in the park to accessing mental health in schools or the clinic, we are trying to build connections and access to all the services that our community needs to boost mental health for all our community members,” Sarver said. “I truly believe that the more we can promote mental health, break the stigma and work together, the more opportunity we will have to build a healthier and brighter future in our community.”

Discover ways to promote mental health awareness by visiting the and Learn more about the Healthy Jackson County coalition at