October 10th is World Mental Health Day. Mental health issues like anxiety affect 40 million adults in the United States over the age of 18. But almost 40 percent of those receive treatment. Why is that?
“There’s definitely still a stigma related to mental health issues,” said Rachel Merlin, a licensed marriage and family therapist. “For some reason, people look at mental health differently than physical health. People are more likely to go in if they are having a physical issue and are more reluctant perhaps for a mental illness.”
Most people are afraid to discuss mental health out of fear of judgment or being labeled. But now, many organizations and even celebrities are doing their part to reduce stigma.
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“The misconception about celebrities is that because we have money and you see us on the carpet, smiling that when the cameras cut and the make-up comes off and the hair, we don’t go home to real problems and we do,” said Taraji P. Henson of Empire.
Henson started a foundation to honor her late father, Boris Lawrence Henson. He was a Vietnam veteran who battled mental health issues all his life. The organization will help African Americans who struggle with mental health issues and even provides scholarships to young people aspiring to pursue a career in mental health.
“There’s help and there are people out there who are willing to support you in this process,” said Merlin. “It might take some vetting. Whether it’s interviewing different therapists that you might find are a good fit for you, choosing select friends or relatives to share this stuff with, there are resources out there and a great online community that can find support.”
“We need to eradicate the stigma around mental illness. And yes, I have a therapist,” said Henson.
If you believe you need assistance, there are plenty of resources out there. First off, contact your insurance provider. They can refer you to mental health professionals that are covered in your plan.
If you don’t have insurance, there are a plenty of apps out there offering telemedicine services for a low cost. Search your app store and check the reviews for an app that’s right for you.
There are also plenty of community resources available that can offer free or low-cost services to you. You can find some of those resources by clicking here.
If you are considering suicide or self-harm, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also call 911 or visit the nearest hospital.