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Mental Health Awareness Month

Every year during the month of May, individuals and organizations in the United States take part in Mental Health Awareness Month. The United States has observed Mental Health Awareness Month since May 1949 with a primary goal of raising awareness, fighting stigma, providing support through education and resource sharing, and advocating for policies that will continue to support individuals and organizations who need it most. 1 in 5 adults and adolescents are either currently or have at some point in their life, struggled with a seriously debilitating mental illness.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has seen rates of mental health concerns increase, especially regarding diagnoses of anxiety, depression, and substance use. Over half of surveyed Americans in 2021 reports recent symptoms of anxiety and depression. Also in 2021, researchers estimated an overall increase of 8% of domestic violence incidents in the US with a 25% global increase.

The largest increase for mental health service need has been seen in the youth and the health care worker population. With therapy needs increasing, therapists have been stretched thin. A survey by the American Psychology Association showed 6 out of 10 psychologists no longer have openings and many have extensive waitlists for those seeking therapy. This paired with psychologists dropping and/or minimizing the number of insurance or Molina clients they take on their case load has created a mental health crisis, primarily for those of lower- and middle-class SES. One individual stated, “I don’t get health insurance from my job, but I don’t qualify for state insurance. I make enough to pay my bills, but not enough to pay $600 a month for private therapy. Where do I turn?”

In 2020, DOVE saw an opportunity to expand their Community Access to Therapy (CAT) program, by requesting both additional therapy vouchers and expanding to include an in-house trauma therapist, to support both DOVE and community clients. This opportunity has allowed DOVE to support Vashon residents with free or reduced cost therapy for those struggling with a current or past traumatic incident (domestic violence, sexual assault, childhood abuse or neglect, unexpected death, serious illness, or injury, etc.). The program extension has been successful and like many other therapy options, DOVE has

both a waitlist for our voucher program and in-house mental health therapy but has hopes forvexpansion in the future to support this in demand community need.

If you are someone you know is looking for mental health support for trauma, reach out to DOVE at 206-462-0911. Another great option is to contact Vashon Youth and Family Services, one of DOVE’s many community partners for mental health support including therapy for children, youth, adults, families, substance use disorders or crisis management. DOVE is a proud partner of the VSSN (Vashon Social Services Network) and continues to work towards providing options for islanders, which includes mental health support.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health crisis, below are King County Resources that are available for you or your loved ones. - Rashaun Renggli, LMFT

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