Reducing the Stigma: 1 in 4 Ohioans Struggles with Mental Illness
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Mental illness may be more common than many people assume, with an estimated one in four Ohioans experiencing a mental health challenge at some point in their lifetime. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Katie Dillon, children and youth outreach coordinator, National Alliance on Mental Illness-Ohio (NAMI Ohio), says discrimination is a major barrier to those who are seeking treatment. Her group works to end the stigmas associated with mental disorders.
"We're encouraging individuals to speak about their mental illness, and understand that this is an illness like any other," Dillon says. "This is something that you are born with and something that you suffer with, and something that you need treatment for. So, it's not something to be ashamed of."
This summer, NAMI Ohio is launching a mobile bus campaign. Representatives will travel to over 100 communities around the state to educate the public about mental illness and build support for the almost 3 million Ohioans who experience mental health disorders.
Dillon says mental illness can affect anyone at any age, and regardless of race, economic status or education. She encourages people to watch for signs of concern in those they care about and in themselves.
"You're having a series of days that you feel are 'bad days' - you don't have as much energy, and you're starting withdrawal from your friends, and feel isolated. We encourage you at that very beginning to reach out and speak to someone that you trust," she advises.
Dillon says that could be a counselor, primary care physician or psychiatrist. She adds that with the right support, successful treatment or recovery from a mental illness are possible.
For more information, the NAMI Ohio website is www.namiohio.org.