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Mental Health, Demystified


"Mental Health" is the state of our psychological, social and emotional well-being.

It affects our feelings and perceptions, how we interact with others, the choices we make, and how we deal with stress.  Like our physical health, our mental health can range from pretty awesome to pretty miserable depending on what's going on in our bodies and in our lives at any given point in time.  Because experiencing times of illness, stress and difficulty are a part of life,  everyone is likely to go through a mental health challenge at least once in their lifetime.

There are  ways to improve and maintain good mental health.  Give some of these strategies a try and, when the stress does come, you can handle it like a boss:

  • Stay connected: invest time in meaningful relationships.
  • Stay physically active.
  • Practice keeping a positive perspective.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Develop healthy coping skills.
  • Give yourself time to do what you enjoy.


Maintaining good mental health also means getting a pro to help you out

when you need it. Scroll down to "Local Resources" for more information.

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Local Resources

When you just can't shake the uncomfortable or painful feelings you're having, it's a pretty good sign that it's time to talk to an expert. Your primary care provider can be a great place to start.  They may be able to help you manage what you're going through, or they may refer you to a professional trained with special expertise.

If you don't have a primary care provider, it's a good idea to establish care with one as soon as possible.   Contact your insurance company for a list of covered providers.  You can also start with 211 Shasta.  If you'd like to contact a mental health professional directly, check out the Therapist List for Shasta County from Psychology Today here.



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Feeling down?

Is it sadness or depression?  What's the difference?

Helpful facts from the National Institute of Mental Health:

1. Depression is a real illness.

Sadness is something we all experience.  It is a normal reaction to difficult times in life and usually passes with a little time.  When a person has depression, it interferes with daily life and normal functioning.  It can cause pain for both the person with depression and those who care about him or her.  Doctors call this condition, "depressive disorder" or "clinical depression".  It is a real illness.  It is not a sign of a person's weakness or a character flaw. You can't "snap out of" clinical depression.  Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better.

2. Depression affects people in different ways.

Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom.  Some people experience only a few symptoms.  Some people have many.  The severity and frequency of symptoms, and how long they last, will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. Symptoms may also vary depending on the stage of the illness.

Men often experience depression differently than women.  While women with depression are more likely to have feelings of sadness, worthlessness and excessive guilt, men are more likely to be very tired, irritable, lose interest in once-pleasurable activities, and have difficulty sleeping.

3. Depression is treatable.

Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated.  The earlier treatment begins, the more effective it is.  Most adults see an improvement in their symptoms when treated with antidepressant drugs, talk therapy, or a combination of both.

4. If you are suffering with depression, you are not alone.

One in four adults experience a mental health challenge in a given year, and depression is one of the most common mental health challenges in the United States.  Build a support system for yourself.  Your family and friends are a great place to start.  Help them understand how you are feeling and that you are following your doctor's recommendations to treat your depression.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. (2015). Depression (NIH Publication No. 15-3561). Bethesda, MD: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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Robert Balke: Organizer, Advocate, Father
Whether you give back or pay it forward, volunteer work can lift your spirits in times of difficult stress. Men like Robert Balke of United Shasta maintain an agile mind by being of service to others.
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Know the signs

Concerned for someone you care about?

Recognizing the signs of suicide can save a life.  If you're not sure what to look for, visit SuicideIsPreventable.org.

You can also take a free suicide prevention training. Visit our Training Page for more information.


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Stephen Campbell: Pastor, Father, Volunteer


Being Awesome requires focus. When your mind feels cluttered, clean up shop by getting your thoughts and feelings down on paper. Men like Stephen Campbell use this technique to sort things out and get back to doing what matters most. "These times are so uncertain for all of us, and that can make us feel like life is unstable.  That's why it's so important to give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves and participate in practices that help ground us."



Gene Ward: Counselor, Mentor, Advocate


Guys, sometimes our greatest strength comes in the form of the kindness we give to others and ourselves. Men like Gene make kindness a daily practice, keeping the mind and heart in tip top condition so he can mentor others. See Gene's mentor experience below.


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Daren Fisher: Father, Husband, Citizen


Dads like Daren Fisher strive to be resilient during tough times. "For me, helping others always lifts my mental health. Helping my child with homework, cooking for my spouse, or assisting a co-worker on a project all help to lift and sustain my mental health as I know that my actions are bringing cheer and joy to others."




Joel Covert: Cowboy, Advocate, Father



Courageous men saddle up and ride on for mental wellness. Men like once volunteer firefighter/EMT, Joel Covert. “We’re not expected to show any weakness. We’re supposed to put on that Superman cape and go back out there, but I see the pain in a lot of their eyes,” he said. “I want people to know there’s nothing weak about getting help.”

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Why Men?

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) reports that men die from suicide 3-4 times more frequently than women1. In 2019, 35.6% of suicides occurred among men between the ages 45 and 64, a group that accounts for 25.9% of men. Here in Shasta County, 235 people lost their lives to intentional self-injury from 2015 to 2019, and 186 (about 79%) of those lost were male2.

Why do men take their lives more often than women?  A variety of factors come into play. Many depend on the individual, however, there are recurrent themes. Some men feel the societal pressure to suppress their emotions, never show weakness, and stand on their own two feet. These expectations create barriers for men, making it very unlikely that they will seek help from friends, family or professional mental health services when dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental disorders (3,4). Furthermore, when confronted with suicidal thoughts, men are more likely to choose a method that is extremely likely to end in death, such as a firearm.

What can men do about depression, anxiety, and when life is just too much?

Everyone experiences mental health challenges. The question is where someone is on the continuum at any given period. Everyone will have times of great mental health, and times when stress becomes overwhelming. Just like any other physical illness, sometimes an expert needs to give us a hand when things aren’t so great. When this happens, a check-in with a doctor is a smart move, and early attention can prevent a temporary problem from worsening and becoming chronic. Additionally, mastering some stress management skills can help someone surf the waves of life instead of being overwhelmed by them. And when they’re surfing like a pro, they can share their know-how with someone else who’s struggling.

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Join the men in our community who are sharing their tools and advice for mastering mental wellness.

Let us know what mental health and resilience mean to you and you could be featured on our next ad!



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Crisis and Help Lines:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, then press 1

The Crisis Text Line: Text LISTEN to 741741

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

Crisis Text for Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Text HEARME to 839863

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474

Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

The Institute on Aging Friendship Warmline: 1-800-971-0016


For First Responders:

Safe Call Now: 1-206-459-3020

Copline: 1-800-267-5463

Code 9 – Officer Needs Assistance: 1-929-244-9911

Serve and Protect: 1-615-373-8000

Share the Load (Fire, EMS, Rescue): 1-888-731-FIRE (3473)


Cell phone graphic of crisis and helplines

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Need to talk to someone now?

The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for confidential support.

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)


For more information on suicide prevention in Shasta County, contact us at lheuer@co.shasta.ca.us.