Shelby County Chamber holds meeting to discuss mental health

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, September 21, 2022

By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The importance of mental health is not something the people of Shelby County take lightly.

A Shelby County Chamber meeting was held at its building in Pelham on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 9 a.m. at the Shelby County Chamber of commerce to discuss mental health and the barriers it can often bring.

April Brasher, the community services and forensic program director of SafeHouse Shelby, was present to discuss fighting the stigma of mental health.

“We have seen some shifts in thinking where people are becoming more accepting of the medical or the genetic mental health disorders,” Brasher said. “But there is still stigma there.”

Brasher discussed the importance of making mental health services accessible to anyone who needs it.

“Most insurances still will not cover a lot of mental health treatment,” Brasher said. “That blows my mind that you have to pay so much out of pocket just to go to a psychiatrist, just to go to a counseling appointment. We still have a lot of work to do systemically to realize that mental health is there.”

Brasher said five percent of employer assistance programs are used for mental health.

“This is because nobody wants to talk about it,” Brasher said. “Nobody wants to go to their employer and say they are having anxiety or having depression. No one wants to talk about it because they’re going to fear how their employer is going to look at them.”

Brasher talks about the importance of speaking up when one starts experiencing symptoms of mental decline.

“We wonder how so many are homeless,” Brasher said. “it starts with us. It all starts with having a conversation. We must ask ourselves how we feel about mental health and learn more. We need to be comfortable having those conversations with people. Talk openly and educate yourself.”

Brasher said she has seen a shift in the way society talks about mental health since 2020.

“We have come a long way since 2020,” Brasher said. “That is what has made the public more aware that mental health is there. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Richard Fallin is the executive director of Central Alabama Wellness and came to speak on comorbidity and his role as a counselor.

“Comorbidity means having more than one thing at a time,” Fallin said. “That can be more than one mental illness at a time or a mental illness and a physical illness at the same time.”

 

Fallin said it can be very uncomfortable when first coming to counseling due to having to make tough self-realizations.

“Mental health is difficult to deal with, and it is difficult to work through,” Fallin said. “The reason I think that a lot of people do not seek services, is because it can be uncomfortable. When I do sessions, I am just holding up a mirror, and sometimes when you hold up that mirror, people don’t like what they see. That’s the reason they are there, but think about how uncomfortable that is in the beginning of the therapeutic process.”

More information on mental health services can be found at Safehouse.org or Centralalabamawellness.org.