BY AARON WALKER
Independent Candidate for
Los Alamos County Council
Throughout my campaign I have stated the need for honesty and transparency in our government, and it’s time for me to honor that need by having a discussion regarding mental health. I have been running my campaign at full steam since late May when I was trying to get on the ballot. Since then, it has been a roller coaster of emotions with some highs, lows, and a ton of anticipation. At times, my mental health has suffered under the weight of the self-induced pressure. I’ve questioned some of my strategies and wondered if I’ve done enough. I have had tremendous support from my wife, friends, and family that have been very encouraging throughout this whole process. I’ve bounced back with renewed motivation and vigor each time, but only because I have learned the tools I’ve needed over the years.
Mental health is a big issue within our community, and it’s time that people in the spotlight start talking about it so that people (especially our youth) understand that it is okay to talk about it. Struggling with mental health is not a sign of weakness, and there is nothing “wrong” with it. We must find a way to make people comfortable talking about their struggles, and it starts with having this conversation publicly. Again, it is okay to not be okay.
Los Alamos County has a myriad of services at its disposal regarding health services, including the health council. I would like to see those services leveraged to provide better mental health services within the county, especially to our teens and youth. I want to see if we can provide better services at the schools, as well as the teen center. We need more providers for mental health services for children within our community as well. We need to foster an environment that gives our teens and youth the tools they need to better confront mental health issues when they come up. These tools will prove extremely valuable as they navigate the waters of stepping into adulthood, and throughout their lives.
It’s not just our youth that need better services. We need more/better services for the adults within our community as well. Again, that would mean finding more providers for these services and having a discussion at multiple levels on how to increase their availability. I also want to look at the possibility of “travelling” providers that could assist our senior population at our senior centers in Los Alamos and White Rock, as well as our senior housing locations.
If we are to continue to have a wonderful community, we need to address the hard topics. We need to have discussions that may be hard to talk about. Mental health is one of those discussions. I will say right now that I struggle with mental health sometimes, and that is OKAY. It doesn’t define me or make me a weak person. It makes me human being with real emotions and real feelings. I am willing to discuss this openly and honestly, and it’s time we start erasing the stigma of mental health.