If our childrenĀ get sick, we call their doctor. If they have trouble with their school work we talk with their teacher, or get them a tutor. If we need help with our taxes, we seek a tax advisor. Yet it seems to be difficult for many of us to seek support for our private concerns.

Many people experience personal, financial, or relationship pressures. We may have learned that as adults we should have the ability to handle our challenges without asking for help from others. We may be embarrassed that we are not handling things better, or we fear we will be judged for our parenting, or for some of the choices we made.


Since 1949, May has been observed as National Mental Health Awareness month and since 1994, May 9 has been National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. President Barack Obama has stated that “… even though help is out there, less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive treatment … the Affordable Care Act will expand mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections for 62 million Americans. For the first time, the health care law will prevent insurers from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition.”

My continued goal as a mental health professional is to remove stigma and shame from individuals, parents, and families seeking guidance for mental health concerns no matter how small or large their perceived problems are.

One coping strategy we may turn to at times of stress is to minimize our discomfort. We might compare our troubles to others and say “mine isn’t as bad as hers.” Or, we might think mental health support is only for those who are addicts, violent, suicidal, schizophrenic, or for someone else other than ourselves.

For the first time, the health care law will prevent insurers from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition.President Barack Obama

Mental health providers can work with you regarding issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction, or trauma. And they can also help you determine what may be needed, or how to adjust to changes in your environment such as loss, illness, remarriage and so forth.

Our mental health is not separate from us. We are emotional beings who came by our issues honestly. Many of us have not learned good coping strategies for today’s fast paced world, or for some of the things that have happen to us. Please join me this May in reducing our isolation and moving towards a better understanding of our needs. We have an opportunity to get assistance for our loved ones and ourselves through counseling.

Marin County is fortunate to have a network of mental health resources. Here at the Novato Youth Center we provide community-based, school-based and school-linked mental health counseling services through our two clinics at the Novato Youth Center and Novato Wellness Center and on Novato Unified School District campuses.

Debra Collins, LMFT Consultant, Trainer, Writer, Therapist and Coach Debra Collins is a licensed therapist who provides solid support and guidance in expanding her clients understanding of their strengths and their motivation to change. Through the use of Motivational Interviewing, Debra partners with her clients to explore their ambivalence and build their confidence to create change in their lives. Debra adopts a strength based client centered approach whether she is working with individuals, offering consultation to organizations, or providing training to institutions and businesses.