Mental Health Awareness Month – Darian Graells, BA, Prevention Facilitator and Tobacco Treatment Specialist


Third Wednesday of the month on WZDG, we get to catch up with the folks from the McCall Behavioral Health Network. Want to welcome a guest who’s been with us before. She’s a prevention facilitator with McCall. Darian Graells joins us this morning. Darian, welcome back. Thank you so much for having me again, Dale. I’m happy to be here. Glad to be here. And we’ve got a gigantic topic, really, that we’re talking about today when we take up the topic of mental health.

We hear a lot about it in the news, virtually spanning the spectrum of all socioeconomics and age groups, whatever you want to do. So when we talk about mental health awareness, and there’s a lot of focus on that, and being mentally healthy, let’s try to set the parameters here. Yes. So May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to be talking about this. So mental health awareness really refers to the understanding and acknowledgement about mental health issues within society. It involves promoting education and knowledge about mental health conditions and available resources for support and treatment, which is really huge and important. Mental health awareness, really the overall goal is to reduce stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health. We’re really encouraging you know open discussions and ensuring that individuals are informed about the importance of seeking help and support. We talk about stigma, you know it wasn’t that long ago in our society that that mental health was really shunned as something, get over it, to use a phrase, or get out of your own head, where people who suffer clinical depression cheer up for crying out loud.

Yeah. You know, it wasn’t that long ago. Are we moving past that? Because we’ve got a lot more awareness and a lot more coming out, as it were, of people who suffer mental health. Yeah. I feel like now a lot more people are talking about it, and that’s really key to breaking down stigma is really just talking about these issues that can be really tough and hard for a person to discuss, but kind of pushing things under the rug just contributes even more to the stigma.

So during this month, we really encourage people to get educated about mental health and even check in with your own mental well-being and ensure that you have skills to cope with stress and can maintain positive relationships in your life. And all these little factors that we don’t consider sometimes because we get so caught up in like the daily grind. So it’s really important to also check in with yourself but also be aware of these issues that exist within society as well and try to support our loved ones as much as we can. I’m reminded of the saying that I’ve seen more than more than a dozen times, it’s okay not to be okay.

Yes. So with that in mind let’s let’s talk about how we how we approach this and the science of mental health and treatments. A little bit about your training and experience and what you’ve seen. Yeah, so through the prevention department at McCall, we offer a lot of like mental health education trainings. So we do mental health first aid and QPR, which stands for question, persuade, refer. And those trainings really teach people like what to look for and things to identify in, you know, people close to you and also just people that exist in society. And it’s really interesting. So after one of the trainings, I had an individual come up to me who shared his story of loss with me and it was someone very close to him.

And I think that the fact that this person was so close to you, we so badly want the people close to us to be okay. So sometimes we may minimize or not even notice signs or symptoms that are maybe cries of help from these people. So it’s really important to just be aware and also, you know, check in with those people close to you and make sure that they’re okay. And even just like, you don’t have to get directly to like, are you struggling right now? Just surface level. You could ask like, how are you doing today?

What’s on your mind? And those kind of open-ended questions can lead to a deeper discussion about truly what’s impacting them. But, you know, we all do that when we see each other. Hey, how’s it going? Right. Hey, how you been? It’s really, it’s just a casual greeting, but this is one where you make eye contact and you say, really, how you doing?

Yes. You know? Deep conversation. Deep conversation, and a lot of us, again, it gets back to that, I’m okay, I’m fine, I’m not gonna burden them with what’s going on in my head. Yes. But you wanna draw them out to do exactly that. Exactly. And how do we know whether it’s somebody who’s just going through a rough patch and maybe there’s something more deep-seated?

Is that where your training kicks in? Well, I feel like, yes, that too, but it’s also both are significant and important. Even if it’s just like a stressful moment or they can be stressed for an extended period of time, both are really important and we can kind of see what we can offer to take, you know, things off of these people’s plates. Definitely attending these trainings and like just getting educated and informed about, you know, signs and symptoms to look for and just really know what to look out for in those people that are close and far away from you. Because we hear a lot more about mental health awareness, because we realize we have an epidemic of mental illness in this country.

Is the science getting better? One of the things that always made me question is mental health and understanding it still seems pretty nebulous to me. You know? Yeah. So there are… It’s tough science. It’s really tough science. And there’s a lot of like terms and scary words that exist that can really make a person feel isolated and it’s really important to remember to like reach out and get support and like don’t isolate yourself and feel like you have to be in this pain forever. There’s tons of resources and organizations that are ready to help you through your healing journey and offer you know whatever support that you need to get through what you’re going through. So you’re not stuck there forever and that’s really important to remember. So we can do this in layers. Yeah. You know it’s not a it’s not an all in inpatient months of therapy necessarily thing. Kind of is a has to be a individualized treatment spectrum. Big time yeah and the time window you know it it’s not there’s no time window for getting over healing through something like this. Right. It can take someone years, it can take someone months, it all depends on, you know, what supports you have and what your experiences have been throughout your life.

Darian Graells is a prevention facilitator with the McCall Behavioral Health Network joining us during this Mental Health Awareness Month of May. Final words for people out there as we do a self-check on how we’re doing from the neck up and just a little bit of friendly advice about taking care of yourself. I would just remind everyone that we’re all human, and it’s OK to feel stress and to not be OK sometimes, as Dale said earlier. I really encourage everyone to get educated. Get out. I mean, we offer trainings at least every month.

So definitely look out for those, and try to attend one if you can. It really kind of teaches you more about what we’re seeing with mental health and the signs and symptoms to look for and how to how to identify that someone needs support and then how to connect them to those said resources. So training but also talking about it if you have questions like asking professionals or encouraging you know those that are struggling to attend like support groups or therapy. There’s there’s tons of different options. Art therapy, animal therapy, group therapy, there’s so many different things that a person can do. But also self-care is really important too, and just getting out and doing the things that you enjoy and you love and that bring you joy.

I really like Lester Holt’s sign-off in the nightly news, take care of yourself and each other. Yes. That could be our sign-off today. Gary Ingrails is our guest this time here at WZBG and we’re talking all about mental health awareness, Mental Health Awareness Month. You can always learn more at Darian, pleasure having you on the show. Thank you so much, Dale. Let’s have you back again.

Hopefully I’ll be back soon.