WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – May is mental health awareness month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, every one in five adults suffer from mental illness.

Dr. James Butler’s message to those who are struggling with mental health is there are so many resources available.

“There are coping skills, there’s therapy, there’s access to individuals that can help,” Dr. Butler said. “There are bereavement counselors. There are individuals that can help navigate stressors. There’s specific modalities that therapists use to help individuals navigate through stressful events.”

He says you don’t have to know you have a problem in order to seek an assessment.

“Everybody can seek an assessment from a therapist, and some individuals would actually benefit even if they had short term grief, job loss or even a short term stressor,” Dr. Butler said. “I think it’s always good to seek advice from a mental health professional.”

Dr. Butler says Covid-19 lead to a crisis for a lot of people, but it helped accelerate access to care as well.

“In some respects it was a stressor that worsened mental health in general, but also accelerated access to mental health,” Dr. Butler said. “So I actually believe that that the Covid pandemic really helped psychiatry be placed on the forefront of care for people that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access care.”

Life stresses are one of the biggest initiators of a mental health crisis according to Dr. Butler.

“The life stressor really triggers and put out those symptoms,” Dr. Butler said.

He says it’s not that there is more mental health awareness than in the past, rather more access. People can seek help online.

“Whereas prior to that they would have to go to a brick and mortar building, be in public, maybe be seen by their neighbors,” Dr. Butler said. “And that associated stigma has really decreased with the ability of individuals to just seek mental health services privately at home.”

Dr. Butler says to call someone and they can help point you in the right direction.

Oceans Behavioral Hospital Waco: (254) 870-4874

Heart of Texas Region MHMR: (254) 752-3451