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Presenters, such as Krystal Fortney speaking on psychotic disorders, provided information to the Mental Health and Wellness Conference at Colonial Hills Church in Hernando. A similar conference is also scheduled to be held in October as an observance of World Mental Health Day.

What is called “life” brings with it a multitude of stresses and pressures on ourselves, both physical and mental.

On the mental side, there are issues of clinical depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior.

To help arm clinicians and providers with information to address those issues, a Mental Health and Wellness Conference was held at the Hernando campus of Colonial Hills Church. It was held on Friday, April 5, in connection with World Health Day, which was observed on Sunday, April 7.

Another day of note is on Oct. 10 each year, which is considered World Mental Health Day, according to Marquita Thurman, event organizer and social worker/therapist for Renewed Minds, a practice located in Hernando. A similar conference will be held on that day, she said.

“Both of those designated days are done by the World Health Organization, just to bring some awareness to health and how important it is for people to be healthy,” Thurman said, who was quick to point out mental health is a big issue in the area.

“Especially considering that we have so many clinicians in the area,” Thurman said. “We may not have a lot of large, brick-and-mortar buildings, but we do have a lot of clinicians practicing privately, maybe on a part-time basis. It’s definitely an issue, whether it’s trauma, depression, anxiety."

Thurman said she is seeing more people seeking help.

“I would say that either people are either more aware of their mental health illnesses and they’re needing to do something about it, or they’re just more aware of the resources,” she said. “I know in my private practice I have seen an influx of clients in the beginning of this year.”

Most people may not know exactly why they need help, but by reaching out, they discover how their lives may be improved upon.

“They come in thinking, ‘I don’t know if this is going to benefit me, but I feel like I need to be here,’” Thurman said. “Usually in the first session, there’s an assessment phase, getting to know the clinician and the clinician getting to know you. After they come to the first couple of sessions and learn that it is really not what they might see on television or it’s not what they had in mind, they definitely see the benefit of it.”

Presentations by clinicians, therapists, social workers and others addressed several areas, such as sex addictions, self-care, LGBTQ plus communities and those who may have suicidal tendencies.

Societal pressures have fueled the growing number of those needing help.

“We are a fast-paced, ‘we want everything now’ culture,” Thurman said. “There’s definitely some intense stress that comes from, not only our home life, but our professional life. Because we’re so focused on just trying to keep up on an already hectic schedule, a lot of times our self-care, mental health needs fall to the wayside until our bodies tell us, ‘we can’t go any further,’ and our bodies shut down.”

Bob Bakken is Managing Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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