One in five people, 43.6 million Americans, experienced a mental illness in 2018 (U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration). Everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues. It is time to promote good mental health practices that last a lifetime. It is time to learn how to support those around us now and in the future. With the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the perfect time to focus on mental health awareness through the Green Ribbon Campaign.

The members of Thumb Community Health Partnership (TCHP) are celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month across the Thumb this year with a unified Green Ribbon Campaign. TCHP members include local community mental health agencies, public health departments, eight local hospitals, and the Human Development Commission. These organizations have joined forces to address mental health issues in Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, and Tuscola Counties.

The Green Ribbon Campaign is designed to promote mental health awareness and reduce stigma. People who experience mental health concerns often face disapproval. Feeling stigma can mean that people keep problems hidden and are reluctant to look for help. Relationships can be damaged. People feel more isolated. Daily life can become harder and harder. One simple step can show your support. Your support tells the people you know and love that it is okay to talk about the stress they feel. It is okay to ask questions. It is okay to seek support.

We encourage individuals, agencies, and businesses to join the Green Ribbon Campaign. Take at least one simple step to let people know you care about this very important issue.

•Wear a green ribbon on clothing

•Tie a green ribbon around a tree in your yard or on your mailbox

•Add a green ribbon to the teddy bear in your window

•Hang a big green ribbon on your door

•Share a picture of your ribbon on Facebook

•Add a Green Ribbon Facebook Frame to your Facebook profile picture. Update your profile picture and search for the TCHP frame.

•Follow the TCHP Facebook page for #Tools to Thrive all during the month of May

•Reshare mental health awareness posts

•Watch social media pages of TCHP members for information about mental health services

For more information about how you can be involved in the Green Ribbon Campaign, visit the TCHP Facebook page or contact Kay Balcer at 989-553-2927. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, contact one of the following crisis lines:

•Huron County: 1-800-356-5568

•Lapeer County: 1-888-225-4447

•Sanilac County: 1-888-225-4447

•Tuscola County: 1-800-462-6814.

—Thumb Community Health Partnership