The Dare County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a proclamation declaring the week of October 3-9, 2021, as “Mental Illness Awareness Week” during the Board of Commissioners meeting that was held at 9 a.m. on Monday, October 4, 2021.

The proclamation was brought before the board by Dare County Department of Health & Human Services (DCDHHS) Director Dr. Sheila Davies and DCDHHS Communications Specialist Kelly Nettnin, who also serves as chair of the Breaking Through Task Force, a local organization that works to address the stigma and other barriers that prevent many individuals from seeking help for mental health or substance use issues.

“Mental health has been cited as a significant concern in our community dating back from the early 2000s with the community health assessment—and with each assessment that we’ve done, it continues to be on the top level of issues cited by citizens,” said Davies. “In fact, in our most recent assessment, 19.2 percent of community survey respondents indicated that poor mental health had affected their day-to-day or normal activities within the last 30 days.”

Davies also noted that one of the key findings from the Dare County Community Health Needs Assessment and its associated focus groups was that there is a significant stigma associated with early intervention and seeking care for mental health issues, preventing many people from reaching out for the help they need.

“That’s one of the primary…

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