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Nurture of Alabama, City of Birmingham partner to break mental illness stigma

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 8:17 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Nurture of Alabama teamed up with the City of Birmingham Friday hosting a community health day designed to break the stigma of mental illness.

There is a tremendous need for mental health awareness now more than ever before, especially as the country is seeing a rise in suicides.

“It’s so important for people to understand it’s OK to speak out about the mental health challenges that they are experiencing,” said Nurture of Alabama President, Crystal Mullen-Johnson. She explained one in five Americans are dealing with mental illness.

She said many suffer in silence because of the stigma attached to the condition.

“When we hear the term ‘mental illness,’ we think of someone of course that’s crazy, but mental health…mental illness is depression, you know, also anxiety. Those are some very common conditions. ADHD, post-traumatic stress, COVID has significantly impacted many and some are having a very difficult time functioning, learning their new norm,” Mullen-Johnson said.

Mental illness often goes undiagnosed because some confuse their symptoms with their emotions.

“We all have bad days. Everybody gets stressed out. Everybody gets irritable, angry, upset, sad. We are human beings, and we have emotions, but the difference is when you can’t shake it,” said Dr. Leesha Ellis-Cox.

She explained that mental illness can look like difficulty getting out bed, trouble maintaining normal routines, or big changes in your appetite or sleep.

She also recommends paying attention to your thoughts.

“You may feel like, ‘I just can’t do this. The world would be better off without me,’ and that’s always a big red flag that you need to get help immediately. Your mental health is your wealth and mental health and physical health go hand in hand, and the only way that we can get healthy is to make sure that we take care of both. So, don’t neglect your mental health. Everything depends on that,” Dr. Ellis-Cox explained.

Doctors stress that if you’re experiencing these symptoms, you are not alone and there are affordable resources available.

They said admitting that you’re not OK and need help is a critical step to getting the treatment you need.

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