Poster for suicide awareness. Photo by Raquel Zuniga

As we enter 2017, our society is becoming more open to different topics with ourselves and each other, but unfortunately, we still stigmatize mental health illness.

One in five people, male and female, will be diagnosed with a mental illness within a year, compared to an illness such as breast cancer which affects one in ten females every year. There are a wide range of mental health disorders and symptoms which can start at a very young age.

Randi Silverman, cofounder of The Youth Mental Health Project, decided to share her story in a movie titled “No Letting Go.” The film is a raw and emotional story that goes into great detail about Robinson’s journey of his mental health disorder.

His symptoms started when he was five years old when he didn’t want to get out of bed to attend school because he feared his classmates hated him. It took seven years for the little boy to get diagnosed properly and receive the proper treatment.

His school’s counselors and psychiatrists thought the reason for the boy’s behavior was because of Randi’s anxiety and recommended that she seek help. The counselors and psychiatrists couldn’t diagnose the boy because they weren’t trained to look for mental health issues.

Randi’s motivation for this movie is “because the silence has to end. I did it because mental illness impacts all of us and can happen in any family. I did it because sharing stories is a wonderful way to empower people, to educate people and to get people talking.”

There are numerous mental health professionals in our own community that provide specialized care for people of all ages who suffer from mental illness. In Bexar County there are 32 different mental health facilities that help different people of different age groups with their specific illness, even helping those who have not been diagnosed.

There are many resources readily available to help people with mental illness. It is disheartening that many people are walking around in our society thinking something is wrong with them when there is not. They just need to come to terms with themselves that it is not them, it is their disorder.

“I know the college experience can be very tough and stressful and if you are feeling down and don’t feel like yourself, thoughts of suicide and other means to cause pain is not the way,” said Gerard Migeon, advocate with One in Five Minds. “Know that you are not alone and there are people out there that want to help, but you have to seek them out. Don’t stay isolated within yourself because that is the most dangerous place to be. There is hope. There is a great life out there waiting for you. You are loved and valued.”

Talking about mental health should not be taboo and should not be stigmatized. 41.6% of college students suffer from anxiety, ranging from mild to severe, and it is very treatable, either with meditation and breathing exercises or seeking help from a professional.

For more information, please visit Bexar County Mental Health Department website at bexar.org/mhd.

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