Make mental health a priority in May

By SANJAY CHADRAGIRI, M.D.
Posted 12/31/69

If you’re like me, you cherish pretty much everything about springtime, from the warmer temperatures to the abundant outdoor activities and rebirth of the flowers and trees.

Of course, that …

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Make mental health a priority in May

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If you’re like me, you cherish pretty much everything about springtime, from the warmer temperatures to the abundant outdoor activities and rebirth of the flowers and trees.

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that we as a society are dealing with some very difficult events at the moment, from the continuing global COVID-19 pandemic to the war in Ukraine and to rising inflation and supply shortages. Add all of that to the everyday stresses of life and it’s no wonder that people are experiencing increased rates of anxiety and depression. 

It’s appropriate, then, that May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. That’s an awareness campaign geared to encouraging people to practice self-care and seek out any of the many mental health resources available to them. 

This year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is promoting a “Together for Mental Health” message, using the month “to bring our voices together to advocate for mental health and access to care.”

NAMI offers a blog, personal stories, videos, digital toolkits and events. 

It's a noble goal for sure, since mental illness remains a huge public health crisis throughout the United States and the rest of the world. According to NAMI, one in five American adults experience mental illness in some form and one in 20 is seriously afflicted by it. Meanwhile, one in six youths ages six to 17 have mental health disorders, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34.

Types of mental illness range from anxiety and depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

These statistics reinforce the great need to further destigmatize mental health so that people aren’t so reluctant to get the help that they need. Fortunately, we have first-rate mental health services available here in northeast Pennsylvania, including at the Wright Center for Community Health. 

At the Wright Center, we offer an array of behavioral health services—therapy, psychiatric care and more—for children, adolescents and adults struggling with anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, substance use and addictive disorders, bullying, relationship stressors, LGBTQI+ issues, trauma, as well as with loss and grief. 

Meanwhile, in response to the shortage of psychiatrists in northeast Pennsylvania and across the country, we started a psychiatry residency in July 2017 and expanded the number of residents accepted into the program in 2022. The program—accredited through the Accreditation Council for Medical Education—integrates behavioral health services within primary care environments and promotion of preventive screenings, timely interventions and a team-based approach to care. That’s especially important for patients who might not initially seek help on their own. 

Our psychiatry residents receive hands-on training in regional public health-based settings, including specialty practices, behavioral health clinics, hospitals and safety-net community health centers where they partner with primary care and addiction medicine teams. The first class graduated in 2021, and scored a 100 percent pass rate on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s Psychiatry Certification examination.

Dr. Sanjay Chandragiri, M.D., is the program director of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education Psychiatry Residency. He is board-certified in psychiatry with additional certifications in psychosomatic medicine and addiction medicine. He is accepting adult patients.

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