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The Eastern Echo Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

City of Ypsilanti City Hall 2

Ypsilanti City Council proclaims May as Mental Health Awareness Month

On Tuesday, May 14, Mayor Nicole Brown proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month for the City of Ypsilanti during a city council meeting. Although the United States has observed May as Mental Health Awareness Month since 1949, the first time Ypsilanti proclaimed such was in 2021. This is the third time Ypsilanti has declared May as Mental Health Awareness Month.  

Events have been happening across the city this month to support mental health and reduce stigma. On May 17, Riverside Park hosted A Brighter Way festival. The focus was to support formerly incarcerated individuals, helping them to get back on their feet. A Mental Health Fair was held on May 18 at Prospect Park. It was a free event with music, food, and guest speakers, and it was held for students of Ypsilanti Community Schools and their families. The schools also had field trips with groups like Embracing Our Differences and Growing Hope. All of these aimed to reduce stigma and grow support within the community.  

Tom Koch, communications manager for the city council, spoke about the proclamation. He said it’s important to foster kindness everywhere.

“We don’t know what other people are going through,” Koch said.

Stigmas surrounding mental health can be seen around the world. A 2021 survey done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 34.6% of adults with a serious mental illness, serious meaning it affects and interferes with their life, did not seek care.

Although there have been strides in caring for mental illnesses, such as by now having scientifically based medications to treat mental illnesses, Koch says that it is still vital to continue having discussions and events to decrease stigma.

“We still have leaps and bounds to go,” Koch said.

Koch also emphasizes how mental health does not discriminate, no matter your age, race, gender, religion, income, etc.

“We’re all imperfect,” Koch said.  

Washtenaw County is fortunate to have a voluntary shelter house supporting the community. They give free and confidential services to help homeless, runaway, and high-risk teens from ages 10-20 and their families. Their Ypsilanti location is housed at 1600 N. Huron River Drive, and their crisis help line is 734-662-2222.  

With events, proclamations, and resources, the Ypsilanti community is aiming to reduce stigmas one step at a time. Those struggling and in need of support can call or text 988.