Overcoming the Stigma Associated with Mental Illness – CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Mental health concerns us all, but it is often difficult to talk about it.

Sophomore Rachel Lee struggled with her mental health. In high school, she was hospitalized three times. But the hardest thing for her was feeling like she had something to hide.

“I’m not crazy,” Lee said. “I’m like anyone else there. I fight. I fight in my own way. But that doesn’t make me any less deserving or less human.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Clarirssa Taylor-Jackson is with the National Mental Illness Alliance in Baltimore. She said the negative stigma associated with mental health stems from our society’s desire for things to be perfect.

“Whether or not you are diagnosed with a mental health disorder, you are affected by mental health. Each of us has experienced anxiety or depression at some point during this pandemic,” she said. “It’s important for all of us to be more mindful of our own mental health and well-being.”

Taylor-Jackson’s brother, Damian, was diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder two years ago, and she wishes her family knew about it sooner.

“If our parents were more open, the schools were more open, and our society was more open, he probably would have gotten help a lot sooner,” she said.

Fighting stigma starts with an open and honest conversation. Lee volunteers with NAMI’s “Ending the Silence” program and speaks with teens about their mental health.

“I may not be able to 100% understand what you are going through, but I care about you,” she said. “I care how you are. Let me know how I can be there for you.

She said she has empathy for each other, shows compassion and knows it’s okay to not always be well.

If you want to know more about NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore or need help, visit the group’s website.

Special Coverage: Talking About Mental Health Awareness

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