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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: May 04 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 06 2013 09:21:08 AM CDT

Mental Health Awareness Month

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Tens of millions of Americans are living with the burden of a mental health problem. 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it's a chance to shine a light on these important issues, so you can be always aware.

With mass shootings and recent violence making headlines, it's hard to ignore the tragedy.  But it's easy to ignore the problem.  Mental health issues are gaining more attention, but experts say we need to be more educated.

"There's a concept and a misconception that individuals who seek mental health treatment are considered crazy," explained Kimberly Garcia with Lehigh Valley Community Health Center.

It's something she works to change at the center helping individuals and families with services and treatment.  One in four people has a mental illness.  They shoulder conditions like depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder.  And even though help is out there, less than half of people with a problem receive treatment.

"It's very important that we educate the community that mental health disorders are just like any other condition, diabetes, hypertension, etcetera," added Garcia.

The people mental health disorders affect don't have a choice.  We're protecting their identities.

"I basically pretty much slept most of the past eight years, wasn't really there for my children to grow up with them, be a proper mother."

For her, and others, treatment was key to a better quality of life.  And it all started with talking to someone.

"People hide the fact that there's something wrong, and it's okay to say there's something wrong, because until you say there's something wrong you're not going to get the help you desire."

Garcia says there's a stigma that goes along with mental health issues and in order to get rid of that, a conversation needs to happen. 

Today is a great day to start.