Build awareness, break down stigma for Mental Health Awareness Month

Submitted to the Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Mental Health Awareness Month is dedicated to building awareness, breaking down stigma and providing resources for individuals and families. During May, South Lake Tahoe government agencies, schools and organizations will shed light on this issue, highlighting available pathways for support and encouraging involvement from community members and groups.

The ongoing stress, fear, grief, isolation and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic has left an impact on children and teens, which is especially difficult to navigate as coping skills are often still being developed during these ages.

“We’re seeing an alarming increase of teens in the emergency room locally,” said Dr. Tracy Protell, child and adolescent psychiatric specialist with Barton Psychiatry. “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, coping and resiliency skills are more important than ever to develop, particularly within the adolescent population.”

Different levels of mental health affect every person; half of the population will deal with some type of mental health challenge over the course of a lifetime, whether it’s mild, moderate or severe. Recovery is common and help is available. Increasing awareness of local, regional and state resources ensures people can get help and support loved ones and peers when needed.

As mental health has city-wide effects, on Tuesday, May 4, the city of South Lake Tahoe is expected to issue a proclamation declaring May as Mental Health Awareness Month. This proclamation calls on local entities to actively participate and help educate the community about mental health and suicide prevention as well as the available support.

As a way to visibly build awareness, El Dorado County will give out lime green “You Matter” and “I Will Listen” bracelets, and Barton Health will give out lime green ribbon pins. Wearing these signifies you are a safe person to talk to, and can provide a no-judgement zone for friends, family, classmates and co-workers about mental health. It’s a simple way to show your support.

Interested individuals can attend a free Barton Wellness Webinar on Thursday, May 13, featuring “Nutrition and Brain Health” with Dr. Hibbeln of Barton Psychiatry.

For local teens, South Tahoe High School publishes a Mental Health Calendar listing high school events, tips and resources.

While Mental Health Awareness Month is just 31 days, it is a top health concern in the Lake Tahoe community and must remain a collective focus beyond this month as part of everybody’s daily lives.

For more information, visit

Submitted by Barton Health.

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