Mental Health Matters: May’s Efforts to Educate and Empower

by Kashley Jones, FNP-C

Certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners 



“Mental Health Matters: May’s Efforts to Educate and Empower”

As a provider deeply invested in the well-being of my patients and community, I’m acutely aware of the prevalence and impact of mental health conditions, particularly depression. For me, a tragedy that struck close to home ignited my passionate commitment to mental health advocacy and support. With May marking Mental Health Month, it’s crucial to delve into the statistics surrounding depression and explore how this month’s efforts are vital in educating and empowering individuals facing this challenging condition.

Understanding the Statistics:

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders globally, affecting people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, with an estimated 264 million individuals affected. In the United States alone, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that approximately 17.3 million adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

The Impact of Depression:

Depression extends far beyond feelings of sadness or low mood; it can significantly impair daily functioning and quality of life. Individuals living with depression may experience a range of symptoms, including persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, changes in appetite or weight, sleep disturbances, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and difficulty concentrating or making decisions. Left untreated, depression can lead to serious consequences, including impaired relationships, decreased productivity, and in severe cases, thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

May’s Efforts to Educate and Empower:

Mental Health Month plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about depression and empowering individuals to seek help and support. Through educational initiatives, community outreach, and advocacy efforts, May provides a platform to destigmatize depression and promote understanding and empathy. By sharing information about the signs and symptoms of depression, available treatment options, and avenues for support, we empower individuals to recognize when they or someone they care about may be struggling and to take proactive steps towards healing. 

The Importance of Early Intervention:

Early intervention is key in effectively managing depression and preventing its escalation. By educating individuals about the importance of seeking help early and reducing barriers to accessing mental health services, we can facilitate timely interventions and improve outcomes for those living with depression. Whether it’s through therapy, medication, support groups, or lifestyle modifications, various evidence-based treatments are available to help individuals manage their symptoms and reclaim their well-being.

Building Supportive Communities:

Community support is instrumental in creating an environment where individuals feel safe and supported in addressing their mental health needs. Mental Health Month encourages communities to unite, offer support, and foster open dialogue about depression. By creating spaces for individuals to share their experiences, seek validation, and connect with others who understand, we can reduce feelings of isolation and promote a sense of belonging for those living with depression.

My Passion Towards Mental Health: 

After experiencing the profound loss of a beloved family member, CJ Smuin, we were deeply moved to take action in his memory. In honor of CJ’s life, our family founded the non-profit organization CJ Smuin Memorial Foundation in remembrance and with a passionate commitment to raising awareness about suicide prevention and mental health.

The CJ Smuin Memorial Foundation (, is dedicated to breaking the silence surrounding suicide, fostering understanding, and empowering individuals who may be struggling with mental health challenges, especially the youth. Through advocacy, education, and community events, we strive to create a more compassionate and supportive community where individuals feel safe to seek help and support.


As we observe Mental Health Month this May, let us reaffirm our commitment to educating ourselves and others about depression and empowering individuals to prioritize their mental well-being. By raising awareness, promoting early intervention, building supportive communities, and advocating for accessible mental health services, we can make a profound difference in the lives of those affected by depression. Together, let us embrace May’s efforts to educate and empower, ensuring no one faces depression alone.

You are not alone. The world is a better place with YOU in it.

-Kashley Jones, FNP-C



The Value of Preventative Healthcare

by Camrey Tuttle, DNP, FNP-C


In a world where the pace of life seems to be ever-accelerating, taking proactive steps to safeguard our health often takes a backseat to daily responsibilities. However, the old adage “prevention is better than cure” holds true, emphasizing the importance of preventative healthcare in maintaining overall well-being. Among the key pillars of preventative healthcare, annual physical exams play a pivotal role, offering a proactive approach to health management.

The Value of Preventative Healthcare:

Preventative healthcare is a whole-body approach that aims to identify and address potential health issues before they escalate into more serious conditions. Rather than waiting for symptoms to manifest, preventative measures focus on lifestyle choices, screenings, and regular check-ups to mitigate health risks. By adopting a preventative mindset, individuals can significantly reduce the burden of chronic diseases, enhance their quality of life, and potentially extend their lifespan.

Annual Physical Exams: A Foundation for Prevention:

One cornerstone of preventative healthcare is the annual physical exam, a comprehensive health assessment that goes beyond treating existing ailments. These exams are not just reserved for those with chronic conditions or advanced age but are beneficial for individuals of all ages. Here’s why:

  1. Early Detection of Potential Issues:

    Annual physical exams serve as an opportunity for healthcare professionals to detect potential health issues in their early stages. Through screenings, blood tests, and a thorough physical examination, doctors can identify risk factors for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Detecting these issues early allows for timely intervention and improved outcomes.

  2. Personalized Health Planning:

    Each individual is unique, and their health needs vary. Annual physical exams provide a platform for doctors to assess an individual’s specific health profile, considering factors such as current medical problems, age, family history, and lifestyle. Based on this information, healthcare providers can offer personalized advice on nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle modifications to enhance overall health.

  3. Building a Long-Term Relationship with Healthcare Providers:

    Regular visits for annual physical exams foster a long-term relationship between individuals and their healthcare providers. This connection allows for better communication and understanding of the patient’s health history, facilitating more accurate diagnoses and tailored healthcare plans.

  4. Preventing Future Complications:

    By identifying and addressing health concerns early on, annual physical exams help prevent the progression of minor issues into more severe complications. This proactive approach not only improves health outcomes but also reduces the financial and emotional burdens associated with treating advanced diseases.

  5. Promoting Mental Health:

    Annual physical exams aren’t solely focused on the body; they also encompass mental health assessments. Given the interconnectedness of physical and mental well-being, addressing mental health concerns during these exams is crucial. Early detection and intervention for conditions such as depression and anxiety can lead to more effective treatment strategies.


The Healthy Evolution of New Year’s Resolutions

The Gagon family is excited to ring in the New Year! We’ve put together a few recommendations to help you achieve a healthy and positive year!


Donna Mathis

Donna Mathis, FNP-BC, Recommends:

Focusing on Positive Choices

As I move forward into the new year, my thoughts automatically channel into lists of resolutions, goals, and self- improvement. After making my list of lofty aspirations for 2024, I came across my list from 2013. It was the same list!

  • Lose weight
  • Exercise
  • Save money
  • Eliminate stress

I realized that while my previous goals seemed positive when I considered the end result, the process I chose was doomed to fail. Losing weight conjured up memories of endless, perpetual dieting; saving money meant reflexively cutting back on luxuries — but to what end? What was I saving for? Suddenly I felt I had stumbled into what Thoreau referred to as “our lives of quiet desperation” – climbing an endless treadmill towards unattainable goals.

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal,—that is your success.” – Henry David Thoreau

This year I’ve decided to restructure my resolutions around positive choices with realistic goals. Instead of dieting I want to focus on enjoying healthy and delicious foods. Rather than generic exercise, I want to participate in physical activities and hobbies I actually enjoy, especially with friends and family! I’ve chosen to prioritize my mental through fostering positive relationships, volunteering and practicing gratitude, learning to forgive myself for mistakes, and appreciating loved ones.

Focusing on Positive Choices

Who knows? This year I may finally check a few things off the list!

Another Positive Choice? Blood Pressure Monitoring & Prevention

Hypertension or high blood pressure is the most common reason for office visits and prescription drugs of nonpregnant adults in the United States. Over 50% of people taking medication to control their high blood pressure still do not have adequate control. To help keep your blood pressure under control, stay active, watch your weight, decrease salts and fats in your diet, and quit using tobacco. To monitor your blood pressure at home, follow the steps below.

How To Take Your Blood Pressure by Gagon Family Medicine

Do I have High Blood Pressure?

Use the chart below to determine your blood pressure range.

Blood Pressure Range - Gagon Family Medicine

Happy New Year!

On behalf of everyone at Gagon Family Medicine, we wish everyone a happy and safe New Year!