May Marks Mental Health Awareness Month

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Mental illness affects millions of people each year, and May is the time to spread awareness.

Many institutions in West Virginia address mental health issues.

In 2012, 18.6% percent of the U.S. population was affected by mental illness. It can affect anybody from toddlers to the elderly, and according to Dr. P.J. Neer at the Grafton City Hospital,

“Everybody deals with mental illness,” Neer said. “You, myself, everybody has issues related to mental illness. Life causes mental illness. I’d say that, primarily, because people need to be aware that resources are out there.”

Resources can be as simple as talking to a friend or family member. Many mental healthcare facilities have both group therapy and one on one therapy to help patients cope with their illness. Neer says everybody deals with mental illness because many everyday activities cause stress. That stress can not only harm ourselves, but others as well.

“Sometimes we become overwhelmed without being aware of the fact that we are overwhelmed,” Neer said. “We may respond to that and affect other parts of our lives in regards to our work, family, friends. It’s harder to be able to maintain a sense of normalcy.”

Everybody leads a different life, and normal is a subjective term. Because of this, many people may not view their life as affected by mental illness. Associated stigmas also can cause people to be afraid to admit they struggle with it. Neer wants to remind people that there is no shame in seeing a therapist, or admitting that something may be off.

“My concern isn’t the persons I see for individual therapy or the persons doing our group program,” Neer said. “My concern is the persons who (are) out there that are hesitant, reluctant to seek help because of the stigma attached to it. It has detrimental effects to the quality of their life. I mean, the persons we do see here – the quality of their life – they’re just amazed at how much happier that they are.”

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