The Mental Health Association in Delaware (MHA) was incorporated in 1932 as the Delaware State Society for Mental Hygiene, changing its name in 1951 to The Mental Health Association in Delaware. In its early years, the Society's focus was on Classroom Human Relations, Mental Health in Industry, and service to hospitalized patients. Over time, the understanding of mental illness and terminology has changed, but the core values of MHA have not.

The mission of the Mental Health Association in Delaware is to promote improved mental well-being for all individuals and families in Delaware through education, support, and advocacy. The agency is committed to understanding that mental health is equal to physical health and is fundamental to achieving a healthy, balanced, and productive life. The agency is committed to reducing the stigma that surrounds mental illness and supporting comprehensive mental health systems for children and adults that focus on prevention and early intervention.

MHA is an affiliate of Mental Health America and is a Community Outreach Partner for the National Institute of Mental Health. MHA also works closely with Johns Hopkins Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania to obtain the most recent research and information to support agency programming.

MHA is a non-profit agency supported by United Way and through government, foundation, and corporate grants and individual contributions. Funding supports the comprehensive programming that MHA provides to thousands of Delawareans each year.

Why Are These Issues Important

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can seriously impact an individual's everyday life and well-being. Mental illness affects families and relationships, overall productivity at home and at work, and impacts our country's increasing healthcare costs. And mental illness, most seriously, is a common factor in relation to suicide.

So what role does exercise, such as walking and running and even programs incorporating other activities such as swimming, weightlifting and yoga, have on mental health?

Each year more scientific studies confirm that regular exercise has a real and significant effect on stress and depression - and may work as well as medication. A new study reported in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine concluded that the individuals who participated in group or individual exercise routines did as well on questionnaires of depression symptoms as those who were treated with antidepressant drugs. Other reports also show that exercise can improve disturbed sleep patterns, can help to control weight, and almost regularly has a positive effect on mood.

The State of Mental Health In Delaware

  • 36.4 % of adults in Delaware reported poor mental health - 8th highest in the nation (US average 33.5%)
  • Over 61,000 adult Delawareans suffer from a mood disorder including major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Over 51,000 people reported experiencing at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
  • Over 117,000 adult Delawareans suffer from an anxiety condition.
  • Two thirds of the 26% of adult Delawareans (approximately 170,000) who experience a mental health episode or who have a chronic mental illness do not receive care.
  • 18% of parents surveyed in Delaware reported having children 3 to 17 years of age with some level of emotional or behavioral difficulties (8.6% reported moderate to severe difficulties).
  • 79% of children/youth in Delaware with mental health concerns did not receive any type of mental health care.
  • In the U.S., 10.9 suicide deaths occur each year per 100,000 people, with an estimated 25 suicide attempts occurring for every suicide death. In Delaware, 11.4 deaths occur per 100,000 people.
  • Suicide is the 13th leading cause of death in Delaware and its the 3rd leading cause of death in adolescents ages 15 to 19 and in young adults ages 20 to 24.

Sources: (statehealthfacts.org 2006); (SAMHSA, National Surveys on Health 2003-2005); (Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (2005) National Survey of Children's Health); (Delaware Health Statistics Center).

MHA Highlights

The Mental Health Association in Delaware offers a wide variety of outreach activities encouraging Delaware's citizens to gain awareness of and to get treatment and support for mental health conditions.

Education and Prevention Activities, Information and Referral Services, and Depression Screenings—serving thousands of Delawareans in the community, at work, and at school.

Statewide Support Groups— serving hundreds of people experiencing depression or anxiety disorders, or who have lost a loved one to violence or suicide.

Delaware's Statewide Suicide Prevention Plan and Suicide Coalition— co-sponsor with the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Child Mental Health Matters in Delaware— statewide collaboration with community agencies and school districts to provide comprehensive programming and services focusing on enhanced access to care and education resources for children, teachers and parents.

Educational Conferences for Professionals and the Public— including the Community Mental Health Conferences and Suicide Prevention Conference.

Advocacy and Awareness Campaigns— targeting state legislators and business leaders.

Media and Website Campaigns and Information— MHA's Update newsletters, media plans, and website outreach at www.mhainde.org.

Eracing The Blues