Change Direction – May 23, 2016- State House

NH 1st State in Nation to “Change Direction” on Mental Health

CONCORD, N.H. – First Lady Michelle Obama was among the first supporters of a new approach to mental health called Change Direction, and now the Granite State is becoming the first in the nation to launch a statewide effort.

Doctor Bill Gunn is director of Primary Care Behavioral Health at the NH Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency in Concord.

He says Change Direction New Hampshire aims to increase our willingness to talk about emotional stress and mental illness.

It will focus on getting Granite Staters to know the five warning signs of emotional distress.

“To legitimize in the same way we would look for signs of arthritis or heart attack or anything else,” says Gunn. “That these are the signs of emotional suffering.”

Experts say everyone experiences degrees of emotional distress and nearly one-in-five Americans has a diagnosable mental health disorder.

Gunn says this program opens the door to getting them the help they need.

Governor Maggie Hassen along with most of the state’s congressional delegation are expected to be at the State House this morning to launch the program.

Gunn says the warning signs include withdrawal, hopelessness and agitation. Others have to do with an absence of self-care.

“People who are making decisions that are really affecting their lives negatively, so they are not able to take good care of themselves,” says Gunn. “And lastly, just any kind of big change in personality. Somebody says, ‘He or she is just not themselves lately. I wonder what’s going on?’ They would feel like they could ask and try to invite a conversation about that.”

The public is invited for the event at 10 a.m. at the State House.

Barbara Van Dahlen, the national founder of Change Direction and one of Time Magazine’s “Most Influential People” of 2012, will be the keynote speaker.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service – NH

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For more information on the Change Direction Campaign and ways to get involved, please visit Change Direction.

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