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Long Beach launches Mental Health Matters campaign

Grunion Gazette - 11/21/2022

Nov. 21—Long Beach health officials recently launched a "Mental Health Matters" campaign in an effort to educate residents about the importance of mental well-being — and provide behavioral health resources for those in need.

The campaign — which includes a website stocked with mental health resources and a program for local institutions to enlist as "Mental Health Champions" — is necessary now more than ever, city officials said in a news release last week.

Rates of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses have spiked nationwide since 2020. Nearly 41% of respondents in a January 2021Kaiser Family Foundation poll reported having symptoms of a depressive or anxiety disorder — a 30 percentage-point increase from the rates reported in 2019.

The increased prevalence of mental health conditions has largely been attributed to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic — and the subsequent economic, health and social insecurity that followed. Last year, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called the nation's increase in reported mental health challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic a "dual crisis."

"We are excited to launch the city's Mental Health Matters website to raise awareness about this important issue," Mayor Robert Garcia said in the Thursday, Nov. 17, press release. "This campaign seeks to empower everyone in our city to learn more about mental health, find support for yourself and your loved ones and take the pledge to become a Mental Health Champion."

The Mental Health Matters website features a toolkit to help individuals understand how the signs of mental illness appear for different people, available behavioral health care and support resources throughout Long Beach, and a guide on how to talk to loved ones who may be struggling.

It also includes a pledge that Long Beach community members, educational institutions, businesses and other organizations can take to become a Mental Health Champion. Those who sign-up will receive window decals and flyers to display in their businesses, the release said, to signal that those pledge-takers are actively working to create safe and responsive environments conducive to supporting mental health.

"We all play an important role in creating a Long Beach community where mental health matters," Department of Health and Human Services Director Kelly Colopy said in the city's release. "We can accomplish this by bringing in the unique ways we take care of ourselves and those around us."

Aside from providing educational opportunities and support around the topic of mental health, the city said, the Mental Health Matters campaign also aims to destigmatize the topic — and integrate considerations about emotional well-being into conversations about overall health.

More than $500,000 of Long Beach Recovery Act funding was allocated to support the campaign, the release said.

The Mental Health Matters campaign launch coincided with Long Beach's first annual Mental Health Resource Fair, which took place at Admiral Kidd Park on Saturday, Nov. 19. That event featured art, music, games and more meant to spark the self-care conversation and encourage residents to consider how to take care of their own mental health — and support those around them.


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