More than 5 percent of young people ages 10 to 19 in Stark County attempted suicide at least once during the 2017-18 school year, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies.
Why is that figure so disturbingly high in Stark County? There’s no easy answer.
One of the ways we can combat this trend is to fight the stigma of mental illness. Our loved ones, friends and neighbors who are struggling need to understand that they are not alone, and that help is available. They should feel embraced, not shamed.
May is Mental Health Month – an opportunity to promote understanding, increase opportunities for help and improve the lives of those facing mental health conditions. Here are a few things you can do this month – and every month – to show you’re a Stigma Squasher.
Recognize mental health is physical health
People living with mental illness sometimes feel responsible for their diagnosis and consider it a mark of weakness. Discourage these thoughts. Treat a mental illness like you would a broken bone – take concerns seriously and seek treatment immediately.
Be there for one another
As Stark County residents, we’re all in this together. Help people feel connected to their community. If someone seems isolated, they may be feeling shamed by their mental illness. Spend time with them, encourage them to talk about their feelings and listen without judgment.
Hold each other accountable
If you see someone being rude or cruel, be sure to call out the bullying and take quick action to help curb the behavior. Bullying and harassment can trigger a person’s struggle with mental illness. And it’s always best to be kind.
Use considerate language
When phrases like, “that’s crazy!” or, “how nuts?” are used in everyday conversation, it can be hurtful to the 1 in 5 people who experience mental illness in their lifetimes. Let’s agree to choose our words more carefully to show respect and consideration.
StarkHelpCentral.com offers a variety of resources to help teens face mental health issues, and our crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day. If you or someone you know is experiencing an urgent mental health concern, call 330-452-6000 or text “4hope” to 741741.