The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 12, 2013

Let's talk about mental illness

We talk about our blood pressure, thyroids, hip replacements, etc. We talk about the doctors who treat us. We give advice to friends and family as to the quality of care or lack thereof from our attending physicians.

So why then are mental health issues hushed? Let’s talk about it.

One in four families is affected by a mental illness. Yet, we so often dismiss the conversations when a family member or friend is seeking someone to express their concerns, possibly needing guidance to find treatment.

We all would benefit if we talked about mental health with the same concern, conviction, empathy, compassion and helpfulness we have when we talk about other diseases and medical issues our family members are experiencing.

The nation has pushed mental health to the forefront these past months.

Having a mental illness can be debilitating if left untreated. It may affect a person’s ability to make healthy decisions or care for themselves without support.

It’s time to talk about it openly so that our friends and family can feel free to contact resources that guide them to a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Let’s talk about it so people are moved to seek support openly without fear of being judged.

Let’s talk about it so our friends and family don’t feel they have to suffer silently behind closed doors.

Let’s talk about it so those who need treatment aren’t delayed in seeking the resources needed for effective treatment in a timely manner.

Let’s talk about it and erase the stigma.

Let’s keep on talking about it and keep promoting education toward a better understanding of mental health symptoms, treatment and recovery.

Mary Johnston

Director of program management

Rule 36 Limited Partnerships of Duluth

St. Peter

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