Times-Herald (Vallejo)

Mental Health May

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It's more than just another month on the calendar for me, and it should mean more to everyone.

As a longtime advocate with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Area Director for the Greater San Francisco Bay Area & Northern California Coast Chapter, this month I am asking everyone to join us and demand #MoreForMen­talHealth.

I found AFSP and their Out of the Darkness Walks in 2007 after losing a friend to suicide in college. I started having real conversati­ons about mental health and suicide with anyone that would listen, and I found out that my mother had struggled in silence for years after experienci­ng trauma as a child. I volunteere­d with AFSP for many years before joining their staff, and sharing my story and advocating for increased awareness and funding for suicide prevention has become more than a part of my healing journey. It is my passion and my purpose because I know we can do more to save lives and bring hope to all affected by suicide.

I am doing more by calling on my legislator­s at the federal and state levels to support legislatio­n that will fund the implementa­tion of 988 and the suicide and mental health crisis system across our nation, particular­ly for those in underserve­d communitie­s.

Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 and de-escalates the crises of tens of thousands of callers each day. On July 16, those in distress and those that support them will be able to reach the Lifeline through a simple 3-digit number: 988. By making the Lifeline more accessible through this shorter number, calls, texts, and chats to the Lifeline's network of crisis call centers are expected to increase. It is vital that the federal government work with states to ensure callers in distress will have: 1) someone to call, 2) someone to come help, and 3) somewhere safe to go. We must act now to secure funding to equip call centers and community crisis response services throughout the country with the staff and resources to respond to everyone in crisis.

Join me this month in urging our federal and state public officials to do #MoreForMen­talHealth. You can start by visiting moreformen­talhealth.org and visiting our AFSP Bay Area Chapter website at afsp.org/sfbayarea.

Together, we can help #StopSuicid­e.

— Christina Cappello/Vallejo

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