"Let's Talk About It," county says, as it launches community programs to raise awareness.
Anoka County is ready to talk the talk on a sensitive subject.
Hoping to raise awareness of mental health issues, Anoka County has teamed with Suicide Awareness Voice of Education (SAVE) for a new program called "Let's Talk About It, Anoka County."
"As a community, the earlier we can identify those around us who are at risk, the less likely they will be to suffer the long-term consequences of these illnesses," said Dr. Dan Reidenberg, SAVE's executive director.
When the county holds the first of three events on Monday, featuring a national suicide-prevention expert, the panel discussion will likely note that one in four adults experiences a mental illness during any given year.
Nationally, it's estimated that between one in eight and one in 12 youths experience mental illness each year.
In the Anoka-Hennepin School District, the state's largest, a number of student suicides occurred between late 2009 and mid-2010.
"A lot of what needs to be talked about is being open -- not being afraid to ask kids or an elderly grandfather if they need help or are having problems," SAVE spokesman Dave Clausen said.
"There are varying degrees of what is not normal," Clausen said. "Some are very dangerous. What we want is to promote discussions that will allow the awkwardness to be reduced."
In a recent survey, 98 percent of Anoka County residents said that mental health was as important as physical health.
"Studies have shown that relay recognition and treatment are critical components to long-term treatment of these illnesses," Reidenberg said.
The program, which gets underway at Anoka High School at 5:30 p.m. Monday, is funded by Anoka County Community Health, Mental Wellness Campaign of Anoka County and SAVE.
Paul Levy • 612-673-4419