Valley Behavioral HealthValley Behavioral Health

by Julia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A lot of people ask, “Why is awareness important?” There are many reasons. For one, because 1 in 5 adults in the United States live with a mental health condition. That means that everyone likely has some personal connection to someone living with mental illness, it also means that you will interact with people who may be struggling in some way. Being aware of mental health and treatment will help you in interactions with those who may be struggling with mental illness.

I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time with one of my cousins. I remember being with him and hearing him talk about his girlfriend named Madonna and how she was a famous rock star, neither of which were true. He occasionally would get aggressive, luckily for me it was never directed toward me. At the time, I was very intimidated because I didn’t know what was causing this unexpected behavior or how to interact or respond to him. Years later, I found out he had schizophrenia, so I started to read about it. The awareness of what he was experiencing was so helpful. In adulthood, I got a call from my uncle telling me my cousin was in jail and he asked me to go visit him. My perception and approach to interacting with him along with the way I responded to him was so different this time because I could empathize with him knowing what he was experiencing. Awareness made all the difference.

Another reason awareness is so important is to allow those living with mental health conditions to seek high quality evidence-based treatment. Between 70 – 90% of people who engage in the right treatments and have the proper supports in place experience a significant reduction in symptoms and they report an increased quality of life. If people with mental health conditions could get these results, why don’t they all engage in treatment? There could be a number of factors contributing to why people don’t seek treatment, including cultural beliefs, insurance, financial strain, etc. However, one of the biggest reasons is the stigma surrounding mental health and treatment.

There is a prominent societal stigma surrounding mental health and treatment. Many people fear judgment or shaming by others if they share that they have a mental health condition or are seeking treatment for a mental health condition. This can further isolate those who are already experiencing a mental health condition. We need to encourage treatment rather than judge or shame people who receive treatment. Take the opportunity to spread awareness of mental health, increase your own awareness in some way, and take any opportunity you can to help end the stigma surrounding mental health and treatment not only during this month but every month.

For more information on the services we offer and how we can help, please call Valley Behavioral Health at 888.949.4864.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Let’s deal with it together.


Julia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP
About Julia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP
Julia Hood completed her Bachelor's degree in Psychology at Westminster College and her Master's and Doctorate degrees in Educational Psychology from the University of Utah. After completing her Doctorate, she worked as a psychologist in Granite School District. She joined Valley Behavioral Health in 2014 as the Director of the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning. In 2017, she expanded her role as the Senior Director of Clinical Services. She further expanded her role in May 2018 as the Chief Clinical Officer and will work in this role to ensure the highest quality of clinical care for our clients and support the clinical teams across the company.