Mental illnesses, let’s Make it OK

To the editor:

Each year, one in four Americans from every walk of life experiences a mental illness. Most people live with the symptoms of a mental illness for ten years before seeking treatment, largely due to the stigma. The sooner people get treatment, the greater their chances of recovery. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to spread the word that mental health is as important as our physical health and what we can do to Make it Ok.

The Heart of New Ulm Project’s (HONU) Brown County Mental Health and Wellness action team are part of a local effort to stop the silence and the stigma. The effort is part of a campaign called “Make It OK,” and is designed to encourage people to talk more openly about mental illnesses and ask for help.

How can you help? By speaking up.

When we start talking, we realize that mental illnesses are more common and relatable than we think. And more importantly, people experiencing mental illnesses will be treated with respect, acceptance and be more apt to get the care they need.

Many of us don’t know how to respond to people when they bring up their mental illness. But the answer is that it can be very similar to what you would say to those who have cancer or heart disease. For example:

“What can I do to help?”

“I’m here if you need me.”

“Can I drive you to an appointment?

Together, we can all work to reduce the stigma. Visit MakeItOk.org to learn more about the campaign.

Sandy Anderson, Mikayla Bruggeman, Jessica Christenson, Jennifer Eckstein, Doug Fox, Julie Hogen, Lori Mathiowetz, Jen Maurer, Karen Moritz, Lori Pickell-Stangel, Jeff Schone, Abigail Schwab, Judy Surprenant, Bonnie Timm, Sandy Walsh

Brown County Mental Health and Wellness Action Team members

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