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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. So “let’s talk about it,” shall we?

We talk about our blood pressure, our 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, surgeons, and physical therapists.

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

One in four families is affected by a mental illness and yet we so often dismiss the conversations when a family member or friend is seeking someone to express concerns to, possibly needing guidance to find treatment. We would all benefit if we talked about mental health with the same concern, conviction, empathy, compassion and helpfulness as we do other diseases and medical issues our children and other various 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 child, a teenager or present later in life. 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 for a family member who is suffering symptoms that they may not understand.

“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 do not feel they have to suffer silently behind closed doors.

“Let’s talk about it” … so that those who need treatment aren’t delayed in seeking the resources needed to effectively treat a family member in a timely manner. It can take time to schedule appointments and find the most effective treatment for the symptoms.

“Let’s talk about it” … and erase the stigma.

Consider this ­ — we, as a nation, have accepted famous role models who have suffered with a mental illness, for example: Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, Michelangelo, Vivien Leigh, Charles Dickens, Buzz Aldrin, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Terry Bradshaw, Dick Clark, Catherine Zeta-Jones and even Princess Diana, just to name a few. As we approach “May Mental Health Awareness Month,” let’s talk to those we know who may be suffering. We have families in our midst who may be confused and fearful with what they consider the unknown.

“Let’s talk about it” … and keep on talking and promoting education towards a better understanding of mental health symptoms, treatment and recover. Let’s work together toward our mental health services in creating an easily accessible and expedient pathway to finding and receiving treatment. — Mary Johnston, Director of Program Management for Rule 36 Limited Partnerships of Duluth, Beacon House, Bayview, Light House, Seashore, and Adult Foster Care Homes, Detroit Lakes