COUNTY—According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 50 percent of American citizens “...will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives,” and “one in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.”

Other CDC data notes mental illnesses are “...the third most common cause of hospitalization...” for Americans aged 18-44, and those living with serious mental illness die an average of 25 years earlier than others.

To call attention to the plight of those struggling with such issues and promote healthy treatment, May is recognized as Mental Health Month, so proclaimed by the Wayne County Commissioners at their business meeting on May 2.

The CDC defines mental health as one's “emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.”

While there is no singular cause for mental health disorders, risk factors include biological conditions such as genetics or chemical imbalances in the brain, alcohol and recreational drug use, trauma or abuse, and ongoing medical conditions, according to the CDC.

Extreme isolation, limited social contact and feelings of loneliness can also be a risk factor, states the CDC.

Those who may be experiencing a decline in mental health are advised to visit their doctor to learn more about what assistance may be available.

Common treatments include medication, therapy.

Diet and exercise can also aid treatment and symptom management.

Those looking for assistance can contact the county behavioral health office at 570-253-9200 for more information about mental health support and referral into the Wayne County Psych Rehab Program.

Attesting to recovery efforts in Wayne County, participants in the Psych Rehab Program visited the commissioners to receive the awareness proclamation.

One participant, identified as Sandy, stated, “I'm learning to cope with anger and stress. I have learned a lot by going to psych rehab and I would like to thank the Commissioners for everything they do for mental health awareness.”

Another participant identified as Paula touted Wayne County's program noting she has “...learned how to manage my symptoms.”

John Nebzydoski, Wayne County's Behavioral Programs Director stated at the meeting “We're very appreciative of our local provider agencies, all of our behavioral health staff at our agency, and our commissioners who support our efforts in addressing mental health illness in our community.”

Addressing those assembled, Commissioner Chairman Brian Smith stated, “The things that you do are incredibly challenging. I know that your challenges are obstacles that are hard to get past and I certainly give you a lot of credit for coming in here and speaking about them, for taking the bull by the horns and addressing them yourselves and seeking out help.”

Commissioner Wendell Kay lauded the county's behavioral health staff for their efforts at relaying what assistance consumers need.

He added, “...we also need the consumers to come in and fill in the gaps in our knowledge and our understanding.”

“It's very important that we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month,” Kay continued, “and we're glad that you're here to talk to us and members of the press about why this is so important.”

Noting “It's a great honor to support mental health,” Commissioner Joseph Adams encouraged those in the program to “Keep plugging away at getting better, controlling some of the things that you need to control mentally and we wish you all the best.”