Raising Awareness for Mental Health

SCF Behavioral Health hosted a booth each Wednesday in May in the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center, showing services offered and how customer-owners can get referred to different services.

Mental health is defined by mentalhealth.gov as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, affecting how we think, feel, and act. Mental health conditions currently affect one in five people in America, with more than half of the conditions beginning by age 14 and 75 percent developing by age 24. Detecting signs and symptoms of mental health issues as early as possible is important to developing appropriate coping skills. Throughout May, SCF celebrated Mental Health Awareness Month to help further awareness around this important topic.

The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that warnings signs of a mental health concern can include excessive worrying or fear, thoughts of suicide, feeling sad, change in eating habits, mood changes, and much more. For children, signs can include a change in grades at school, anxiety, worry, temper tantrums, frequent disobedience or aggression, or nightmares. It is important to get connected with someone if you or someone you know is experiencing any signs of mental health challenges.

On April 15 and 16, the Alaska Native play The Winter Bear, written by Anne Hanley and produced by the Perseverance Theater Alaska, Inc., was performed at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. The play has been performed in many Alaska communities since 2005 and is supported in part by Southcentral Foundation and various grants. The play shares an important message by telling a story about an Alaska Native teenager who believes suicide is the only option until an Athabascan Elder shows him how to use traditional culture and knowledge to work through his despair and find his true voice. Annie Huntington-Kriska is an SCF Grants Advisor and the daughter of Sidney Huntington, who the play is about.

“The play encourages people to talk about suicide,” Huntington said. “It’s about the strength of our Native culture and our traditional ways of saving lives and building resiliency. Just as Southcentral Foundation encourages and bases much of its work on story, The Winter Bear promotes story telling as a part of culture and encourages people to be involved in and use culture to find reasons to live.”

On May 9, 16, 23, and 30, Southcentral Foundation Behavioral Services Division held a community meet and greet in the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center lobby. During the event, employees and customer-owners had the opportunity to find out the different behavioral services that are offered at SCF, how to get referred to services, and where to find them. In addition, participants had the opportunity to complete a personalized card that was in line with the theme for that week. The completed cards were then put onto a wall in the ANPCC.

If you would like to find out more information on mental health conditions or are experiencing any signs, contact SCF Behavioral Health at (907) 729-2500.

by Riley Stewman

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