Mental illness affects one in four families, according to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI).
On Martha’s Vineyard, the problem is even more acute. The self-reported incidence of depression is almost double the state average.
Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an observance and publicity campaign created in 1949 by the organization Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Association for Mental Health) to draw attention to, and mobile resources to address, challenges related to mental illness facing individuals, families, and communities across the country.
If you’re an islander, given the higher-than-average incidence of mental illness facing Vineyarders, it’s likely you know someone who struggles with these challenges.
In his excellent 2017-2018 series, “Mental Illness on Martha’s Vineyard,” Martha’s Vineyard Times contributor Jonathan Burke chronicled many of the ways mental illness impacts island residents, their families, and the community at large.
Important Phone Numbers & Resources
24-Hour Mental Health Emergency Crisis Hotline:
Martha’s Vineyard Hospital:
Island Health Care Mental Health Services:
Samaritans on Cape Cod and the Islands:
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services:
Stories like the ones Burke tells reveal more than the statistics ever can, because they humanize the issue. These are real islanders struggle with real and serious illnesses (bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and more), and there are many more just like them. They are our friends, neighbors, and colleagues; they are our parents, children, and grandchildren.
Island Health Care can help. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, you can always start by contacting us at 508-939-9358.
In addition, we partner with Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, which offers a robust set of mental health services, from crisis intervention, to substance abuse recovery, to employment assistance, to senior care.
Mental illness can be isolating, even when services are available. We can all do our part to connect people in need with people who can help.