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300 dpi 4 col x 11.25 in / 196x286 mm / 667x972 pixels Hector Casanova color illustration of a blissful woman emerging from dark water to a clear starry night. Her sad reflection has many eyes looking at her. For use with stories about overcoming mental illness or schizophrenia. The Kansas City Star 2001
Monday, May 6, 2013
I write this letter from my heart today. I lost a friend to a mental illness yesterday.
May is Mental Health Awareness month. Do you know someone who is mentally ill? If you do, encourage him or her to get help.
So few people get help because of the stigma associated with being mentally ill. When are people going to wake up? It is a disease just like any other disease.
If you know someone who is depressed, reach out. Be a friend. Don’t stay away because you don’t understand an illness. Educate yourself. There are groups for support, counselors who can educate the public.
Many people can recover from a mental illness if they just get the right help. Recovery is possible. Not a cure, but many times a person recovers. I know. I have been there.
Too many people are being left out of the system. Tell our senators that Virginia has a terrible rating for care. We are at the bottom for having help for services. Write your congressman and tell him we need more mental health support systems.
Most of all, don’t be afraid of someone who has a mental illness. People who are mentally ill can be great friends, and maybe all they need is a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Help them find professional help.
I end this letter with a question. How much longer and how many more people are going to have to die or be homeless before we wake up and see these people as human beings who hurt and need help?
Let’s stop the stigma and do something.
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