Mental health awareness in the Mountain State

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Perhaps you were among the more than seventeen million people watching Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle.

If you were, you learned that the Duchess fought depression and even considered suicide – something that claimed the lives of nearly 50,000 Americans in 2019.

And with more than one million more attempting suicide, suicidal thoughts are far more frequent than you might think.

During her interview with Oprah, perhaps the most shocking statement by Meghan Markle revealed the stigma that depression still has in the 21st century.

She says she was denied mental health services by the palace because it might result in bad press.

“So were you thinking of harming yourself, were you having suicidal thoughts?” asked Oprah Winfrey

“Yes, this was very, very clear,” replied Meghan Markle.

An admission of desperation that reaches into the Mountain State.

“It really struck me that although she seems to be a princess in a different world than most of us, the circumstances are not all that different,” comments Sheila Moran with First Choice Services.

The stigma that even the words “mental health” are a sign of “weakness“.

“I think that that’s still a barrier for a lot of people, even here in West Virginia,” remarks Moran.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 330 West Virginians took their own lives in 2019.

Oftentimes, feelings of unhappiness, stress and anxiousness are ignored and go untreated.

It’s even more critical now.

In February of this year, the magazine “Nature” reported researchers are worried by the dramatic uptick seen in anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Too many people in isolation.

“One thing that has been beneficial if anything from this pandemic is that it has increased a focus on mental health – it’s reminded us that everyone has mental health and we need to take care of it – if it needs taken care of,” says Barri Faucett with Prevent Suicide WV.

It’s become a common saying these days: “it’s ok to feel bad”.

And if you are, click here for ways to find help.

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