TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) September is National Recovery Month, a month dedicated towards increasing awareness and understanding of mental and substance abuse disorders. The obserance also celebrates Americans who are in recovery from those disorders, in order to drive home the message that treatment does work.
Mental health and substance use disorders are often linked to a higher risk of suicide, which is a problem in the Gem State. Over the past three decades Idaho has maintained one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. And on average at least one person dies by suicide every in Idaho, making it one of the leading causes of preventable death in the state.
"Here in Idaho it's a real part of lives," the Medical Director for Optum IdahoDr. Ron Larsen says. "That is that we have over 250,000 people that seek or have mental health and substance abuse disorders. Less than half actually seek help. It's part of our environment I think. We're people who believe in pulling ourselves up by our own boot straps. But we can do better."
Larsen says sometimes all it takes is starting a conversation with a person and taking the time to listen to help them get on the path to recovery. He recommends you show that person you're concerned in a non accusatory or judgmental way, keeping your questions simple, and offering reassurance so that person knows they are not alone. Every year more than 260,000 adults in Idaho experience mental illness, but less than half of those individuals actually receive mental health treatment or counseling to help address their condition.