Health experts: Stigma of mental illness prevents help

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Depression is just one of many mental illnesses that more than 57 million Americans are dealing with. Officials say actor and comedian Robin Williams has been dealing with depression for years. Health experts said the stigma behind it causes people to not seek help.

Health officials said most individuals dealing with a mental illness have considered suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America.

The Carriage House is one of many organizations in Fort Wayne and Allen County that helps people with mental illnesses. Andy Wilson, executive director for the Carriage House, said doesn’t matter who you are, anyone can have a mental illness.

“It’s not about being smart, it’s not about being wise, and it’s not about being educated, it’s about an illness,” he said.

Cindie Owensby goes to the Carriage House. She said she’s been dealing with depression for years. She’s even tried to commit several major suicide attempts. Owensby explains that it’s hard for people without a mental illness to comprehend what they’re going through. She said she doesn’t talk about her illness out of fear people interacting with her differently.

“They suddenly get this change in their approach, and they become different with you,” she said.

Freeman said there’s misconception about individuals seeing suicide as an easy way out of their problems. She said due to the mind frame of a person with a mental disorder, suicide is not considered a choice.

“There’s a chemical imbalance is really creating some distorted thoughts and thinking,” Freeman said.

Lisa Freeman has provided the following list of signs to look for in a person who’s suffering from depression or any other mental illness.

  • Change in mood
  • Not wanting to do favorite activities
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling hopeless

If you know anyone who’s dealing with a mental illness, they can contact the Mental Health America in Allen County at (260) 422-6441 or The Carriage House at (260) 423-4301.

If you know someone considering suicide, that person can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Any information provided will be confidential.

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