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Breaking the stigma this Mental Health Awareness Month

mental health
Posted at 6:00 AM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 15:52:24-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Nearly one in five adults lives with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. For Mental Health Awareness Month this May, local advocates are working to erase the stigma around it all.

“The most rewarding is when somebody comes back and says, ‘You’ve changed my life,'" said Laura John, Clinical Supervisor with Rogers Behavioral Health in Appleton. “We need to get people connected to feel like they’re heard, to be validated and be able to seek services without judgment.“

Dedicating the past ten years of her life to normalizing mental health, Laura John says mental health is just as important as physical health and hopes society is getting closer to accepting that.

“Helping patients to really learn how they can live with their illness and helping them to stabilize so that they can enjoy their lives and really live the life they deserve," she said.

Rogers Behavioral Health has family programs for all treatment, from OCD, to depression, PTSD and addiction. Patients are in the room with their therapist and their family members.

“It doesn’t just affect that person," said Jenna Kemink, Mental Health Therapist with Rogers. "It affects everyone in their lives that care about them.“

No matter what an individual is going through, they need to see they’re not alone, said Kemink.

“When you’re in a group and you can share something and then someone is able to relate to that, I think that’s incredibly powerful," she said. "It makes you feel like, 'Okay I’m not alone, I’m feeling this too, and I have this support.'"

Throughout the pandemic, there’s been an increase in patients needing treatment, said John.

“It’s about, 'You should know better, you should be smarter, you should be stronger, why are you isolating, why aren’t you doing things, just get up and do them then,'" she said. "And that’s so much easier said than done, and I think that stigma really comes from a place of misunderstanding, lack of education, and fear, right? People fear mental illness.“

Now with free virtual screenings and telehealth, therapists are able to bring more help to more people.

“It’s ok to not be okay," said Kemink. "And to talk about that.”

Another big part of Mental Health Awareness Month is making self-care a part of your every day routine. Whether it’s just taking a quick walk, reading a chapter of a book, or talking on the phone with a loved one, both therapists say a little self-love goes a long way.