It was while growing up that Mike Yestramski found his life’s calling.
“Like a lot of people in the behavioral health field, I had my own experiences growing up through family and friends who struggled with behavioral health problems,” he says. “I saw a lot of good that can be done but I also saw a lot of areas for improvement, and I wanted to be part of that improvement.”
Yestramski is a psychiatric social worker at Western State Hospital near Tacoma, Washington. For more than 15 years – the last five in Washington – he has been helping people who struggle with mental illness, substance abuse disorders, behavioral addictions and more.
At a time when mental illness is on the rise in the U.S. and communities across America are facing an opioid epidemic, the work of behavioral health professionals is more important than ever. But in their devotion to their clients and their commitment to making their communities better, behavioral health professionals – including therapists, case managers, peers, counselors and more – don’t always get the help they need from their employers. These issues are coming into sharper focus in May, which is Mental Health Month.