Most people deal with mental health issues at some point in their lives. In Wyoming, we pride ourselves on our independence, our ruggedness, and our ability to face challenges and persevere. Those traits—while admirable—can also make it difficult to seek help when we need it. We don’t like admitting to ourselves that a problem is too big for us to tackle on our own. “A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis” is a new documentary on Wyoming PBS that discusses these issues, and how they make it difficult for Wyoming residents to seek mental health treatment.
“In Wyoming, we have very unique roadblocks to treating mental health disorders,” said Mental Health Professional Kristi Kuhn-Hann, Clinical Director of Wyoming Recovery. “Many of us are in remote and rural communities, with few local resources to help. In addition to access issues, we also find that Wyoming residents are just less likely to ask for help dealing with mental health problems.”
“I was really excited when Wyoming PBS approached me about this documentary project. As a state, we really need to work harder to bring mental health out of the shadows so we can remove the stigma and get people better treatment. I think this documentary will help educate a broader audience, and that’s always a good thing.”
Mental health problems vary greatly, and can be caused by temporary changes in hormones or more permanent issues based on your body chemistry or family history. They can also be caused by events, like a traumatic experience. We can ignore our mental health issues, but they rarely go away on their own. That’s why it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. Common mental health disorders include depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Possible signs of mental health issues include:
- eating or sleeping too much or too little;
- inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of the kids or getting to work;
- becoming distant from friends and family;
- feeling numb or ambivalent;
- feeling helpless or hopeless;
- using drugs or alcohol more than usual;
- yelling or fighting with friends and family;
- experiencing mood swings;
- having relationship issues with your spouse or significant other;
- thinking of harming yourself; or
- taking part in self-destructive behavior.
If you have a mental health issue, you should get help as quickly as possible. Signs and symptoms can start out small and benign, but quickly escalate into things that can threaten your relationships or even your life.
“Many people self-medicate to deal with their mental health problems, using drugs or alcohol to temporarily relieve the symptoms,” said Kristi Kuhn-Hann, “This can lead to long-term addiction, as well as physical damage to your brain and body.”
“I think a lot of people just think of Wyoming Recovery as an addiction treatment center. But the drug and alcohol use in many mental health situations isn’t the cause, it’s a symptom. And that’s where our Dual Diagnosis program comes in.”
With Dual Diagnosis, Wyoming Recovery’s entire staff—from our doctors and nurses to our addiction counsellors and mental health professionals—work with patients to address all aspects of their mental health as well as their drug and alcohol use. We treat not only the symptoms, but the root causes including the depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, mental trauma, or PTSD.
“We’re able to work with our patients on all fronts,” said Kristi Kuhn-Hann. “And that allows us to achieve better results in all areas.”
“A State of Mind: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis” premiers Friday, May 20th at 7:30 p.m. Visit WyomingPBS.org for more information, including the local channel for your area.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder that includes drug or alcohol use, contact a case manager at Wyoming Recovery to learn more about our programs and your options.