Fighting the stigma on mental health

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Kim Break

Though Mental Health America has been raising awareness for the disease for 70 years this year, a negative stigma is still attached to the illness. Not all people see mental health as a disease but that is exactly what it is. Medications aren’t always used to treat those with mental health illnesses, but in situations where it is needed, it shouldn’t be viewed any different than if someone is taking medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.

I recently sat in on a meeting where state officials and concerned citizens met to discuss the issues surrounding mental health. Unfortunately the issue isn’t just in a few states, it is all over the country, which makes this a nationwide issue. Yes there are issues in the country others might deem more important to put in front of mental health concerns, but why?

Want to hear some alarming statistics? Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. In 2017, 47,173 Americans died by suicide. In 2017, there were an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts. On average, there are 129 suicides by day.

I lived my life for 32 years before being directly affected by suicide. A close family member took his own life over a year ago, and just recently, a close friend did the same. My heart breaks knowing they were in such pain and didn’t reach out for help. The loved ones left behind after suicide are then faced with questions like: What did I do wrong? Why didn’t they talk to me? Did I ignore the signs?

Truth is, a lot of times, those who are battling strong mental health related issues, are really good at hiding the pain or, they are too afraid of what people will think if they come out and say, “I need help.” That shouldn’t be the case. People shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to treat their mental health illnesses.

One of this week’s stories is about May being designated as Mental Health Month. Even though May is now coming to a close, I encourage everyone, whether you know someone struggling with mental health illness or are someone struggling with mental health illness, read up on our local resources and utilize online resources and please don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help.