May 22, 2023
May is designated nationally as Mental Health Awareness Month. This year, it also marked the end of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, which affected not only physical health, but also mental and emotional wellbeing.
DHHS is highlighting resources available through StrengthenME and Children’s Behavioral Health Services to support those experiencing ongoing mental health effects of the pandemic, as well as broader support for the mental and behavioral health of Maine people of all ages.
StrengthenME Enters Next Phase
StrengthenME offers free stress management and resiliency resources to promote the health and well-being of all Maine people. The DHHS Office of Behavioral Health is launching the next phase of the outreach and engagement campaign to raise awareness about StrengthenME, reduce stigma around getting help for mental and behavioral health issues, and promote the health and well-being of Maine people by offering free and anonymous resources and services to help manage stress, inspire hope and improve resiliency. While DHHS launched StrengthenME as part of COVID-19 response in August 2020, the current campaign both continues to support those experiencing ongoing effects from the pandemic and broadens focus to support all Mainers dealing with mental and behavioral health issues.
The initial campaign generated 66,411 visits to the StrengthenME resource landing page, resulting in more than 43,000 website engagement sessions. As of March 2023, StrengthenME has:
- Facilitated 1,640 peer support conversations through the Teen Text Support Line.
- Supported the expansion of the Intentional Peer Warmline, which continues to see a 30 percent increase in call volume compared to pre-pandemic volumes.
- Provided Frontline Worker Supports through Workforce EAP, including:
- 900 individual support encounters;
- 14,600 group support or training participants;
- 1,100 educational events;
- 274 clinical group support sessions; and
- 100 critical incident response sessions.
- Offered support through partnerships with community-based organizations employing Community Health Workers and other peer support specialists, resulting in over 32,000 individual and family support encounters and over 16,000 group support and educational events. Approximately 90 percent of these services are facilitated in a language other than English.
The current “Hero’s Journey” campaign, launched earlier this month, is an integrated multimedia campaign including traditional television and radio ads, digital advertising, and direct engagement materials. It has been recognized with a Gold Award in the 40th Annual Healthcare Advertising Awards in the COVID Marketing Campaign category for a public health campaign. The Healthcare Advertising Awards are a national program recognizing excellence in the field of healthcare marketing and advertising. They are judged by a national panel of industry experts for creativity, marketing execution and message impact.
To explore resources available through StrengthenME and connect to services, visit StrengthenMe.com or call 211 and press 6. All services are free, anonymous, and confidential.
Children’s Behavioral Health Highlights Resilience, Recovery and Renewal
May is also recognized as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month This year’s theme is, "Resilience, Recovery, and Renewal: Supporting Children's Mental Health in the Post-Pandemic Era."
Children's mental health is a critical component of their overall health and development. Mental health challenges can have a significant impact on a child's ability to learn, develop healthy relationships, and navigate developmental stages. This year's theme emphasizes resilience or the ability to adapt to and bounce back from challenging situations. Recovery and renewal are also important aspects of supporting children's mental health, as children may need help in processing the experiences they had during the pandemic and rebuilding a sense of normalcy in their lives.
There are many ways that parents, caregivers, educators, and mental health professionals can support children's mental health, including:
- Building resilience: Children can learn resilience by practicing problem-solving, positive self-talk, and mindfulness techniques. Encourage children to identify their strengths and celebrate their successes, no matter how small.
- Providing a safe and supportive environment: Children need to feel safe and secure in their homes, schools, and communities. Creating a supportive environment can help children feel valued and connected, which is essential for their mental well-being.
- Encouraging healthy habits: Good physical health and wellness is closely linked to good mental health. Encourage children to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.
- Seeking professional help: If you're concerned about your child's mental health, don't hesitate to seek professional help and/or peer support. Mental health professionals can provide support, counseling, and treatment for a wide range of mental health issues.
The DHHS Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) has a variety of Children’s Behavioral Health programs and services to help support Maine parents and families in identifying and addressing mental and behavioral health issues in children, including an emphasis on trauma-informed care.
Access Maine is an online resource guide with information to connect people living in Maine to public programs, services, and other resources.
Help Me Grow Maine is a free information and referral service that connects pregnant parents and families with children through the age of eight to information and resources on early screening and intervention, which can address mental and behavioral health issues in young children to help get them on track for a healthy future. The Help Me Grow team will listen, link parents, providers, and community partners to services, and provide ongoing support when needed.
Maine people of any age can contact the 211 Maine helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 211 Maine is a free, confidential statewide program that provides information, including about local health and human services, to Maine people.
- Dial 211 (or 1-877-463-6207)
- Text your zip code to 898-211
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The 988 Lifeline responds 24 hours a day, seven days a week to calls, chats or texts from anyone who needs support for suicidal, mental health, and/or substance use crisis, and connects those in need with trained crisis counselors. Individuals can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.