The article below is part of an educational series to help the community
better understand Behavioral Health Services (BHS) available to them in
I have worked all over the country. Traveling and adjusting to the various
cultures has become a way of life for me. Having been in the mental health
industry for over 35 years, I have been dismayed at how consistent the
stigma of mental illness is. You have the corporate America, with various
industries dominating the geographical areas even to the point of stereo-typing
people that live there:
- Steel workers in the Mid-East
- hoity-toity political types in the East
- Automotive workers in the Mid-West
- Older folks in the South
- Hippie Socially Liberal in the far West
- and conservative ranchers in the North West.
All these areas come with some common denominators, but for the most part
they are separate and all feel that recovering from a mental disorder
is a matter of how strong willed the individual is. That thinking is most
pre-dominated here in the North West.
Imagine suggesting to someone that they needed to set their own broken
arm (I have
used this example before). In doing so there is an infection that sets in and the person dies.
Would you feel somewhat responsible? Or, after someone you love has their
appendix burst, and you refuse to take them to the hospital and they die,
how would you feel?
But—and this happens—someone comes to you and confesses that
they have been feeling down or depressed lately, maybe that things would
be better without them around. Too often there is a reaction that just
might be a little like avoidance, “What am I supposed to do about
it?” Maybe the topic will go away. Right?
Out here, though there are many positives, we are at a bit of disadvantage
in some ways. The winters are long. It is cold. There is a real possibility
that if we get enough snow we would not have much interaction with others.
Stuff happens in that environment. Not to mention that everything is far
away from wherever you are, even in good weather. Isolation.
Listen. Mental illness is not to be dismissed. It can and will kill people
you love if not properly treated.
So, take the few minutes of your busy day and help your friend or family
member get connected with a professional. If there is reluctance calling us at
Behavioral Health Services, call us anyway, 307.688.5000. We have many different referral professionals
that we could give you to call.
And most of all, do not feel this is simply a strength of will situation.
You could save some one’s life.
Jeff Rice is the director of
Behavioral Health Services at Campbell County Memorial Hospital. BHS provides professional mental
health and substance abuse services to the community through prevention,
education, advocacy and treatment for all ages in the community. Appointments
are available Monday–Friday from 8 am–5 pm. Call 307.688.5000.
Learn more at