BIG SPRING - West Texas Centers will celebrate Mental Health Month in each of its 15 mental health clinics with special activities focusing on recovery.

BIG SPRING - West Texas Centers will celebrate Mental Health Month in each of its 15 mental health clinics with special activities focusing on recovery.

Mental Health Month raises awareness and encourages dialogue. One in five Americans are affected by mental health conditions, according to the National Association of Mental Illness.

Clinics are located in Andrews, Dawson, Gaines, Garza, Howard, Mitchell, Nolan, Reeves, Runnels, Scurry, Terry, Upton, Ward, Winkler, and Yoakum counties.

The clinic in Runnels County is located at 119 N 7th St. in Ballinger.

West Texas Centers serves more than 2,200 people each month through their clinics and 24-hour mental health crisis hotline.

The hotline is beneficial to people in crisis and those who have questions regarding services, care or the needs of a loved one, West Texas Centers CEO Shelley Smith said. “It’s also a crucial lifeline for people who are in crisis and need someone with whom to talk.”

Each clinic serves people in their county and specific region, Smith said.

Also a pre-printed balloon with the wording “Let it go” will be distributed to each patient who visits the clinic. Staff will encourage consumers to release the balloon as they exit the building.

“They may have entered the clinic with a great deal of stress, problems and concerns,” Smith said. “But when they walk out, we are encouraging them to let go of all of those emotions.”

“In therapy, we have found it’s very helpful to picture all your thoughts and problems encapsulated in a balloon and to release them," Smith continued. "We are hopeful that this exercise will be beneficial in the future as they work on living with their mental illness.”

Refreshments and information will be available at all of the mental health clinics.

“Mental Health Month opens streams of dialogue whether it be on social media, in your living room or in the classroom,” Smith said. “Mental health organizations are actively pushing stories and information during the month of May using several different hashtags such as #curestigma or #act4mentalhealth. It helps when it’s out there so prominently. People who aren’t apt to open up about mental illness may find that maybe they can talk about it if given the opportunity.”

To request mental health services or to access mental health crisis services, you can call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-375-4357 or call (325) 365-2069 to reach the Runnels County clinic.

Each child who visits the clinic this month will be given a bracelet with the saying “Life is Good.”

Children who wear our bracelets may be encouraged to tell their stories instead of keeping it hidden, she said.

“We are always looking for new ways to get our message out there and help people who may be too embarrassed to talk about mental illness.”

“Resources are out there,” Smith said. “You do not have to travel this road alone.”