Since 1949, the United States has recognized May as Mental Health Awareness Month — dedicated to recognizing the needs of those with mental or behavioral health diagnoses, reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues, and helping those in need to get connected with the right treatment professionals.
Unfortunately, all too often people in need of emotional support or mental health care hesitate to seek the help they need.
The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) continues to work tirelessly to remove the stigma of mental illness and to connect those in need with compassionate, skilled therapists. Their series, Stories of Hope, has helped bring mental and behavioral health out of the shadow of stigma, and offers some critical clues why people often hesitate to get the help they need…
Tega, a high school student, was afraid to talk about her mental health. “Growing up in my African household,” she said, “we wouldn’t bring up feelings of discomfort or depression because the answer was always the same: pray about it. Pray the depression away.” She suffered from chronic anxiety and panic attacks until a friend told her, “you’re never weak when you seek help.” Through treatment, Tega was able to address her issues of childhood trauma and to tackle her mental health challenges head-on. “Seeking help for my mental health has helped me so much that I now talk about it openly on my different platforms,” says Tega. “I remind people of color to seek help when they need it, and I talk about mental health awareness and resources.”
Julie noticed concerning changes in her daughter Michelle’s behavior beginning around age 12. Michelle struggled with issues of anorexia and diet, as well as anxiety and depression. By high school, Michelle began to grapple with the fact that she had an eating disorder. Julie said, “I took her to a therapist who listed eating disorders as among her areas of expertise, and after talking with Michelle and I, both together and separately, she determined that Michelle was suffering from Anorexia.” Michelle entered a residential treatment program plus follow-up treatment by both counselors and nutritionists. Despite treatment, however, in July 2019, Michelle took her own life. Julie urges others not to hesitate to connect with a caregiver. She plans to publish Michelle’s book of poems to enlighten others and as part of her own healing process.
Demphis reports having suicidal thoughts since an early age. “No innocent child fully understands that they may inherit a genetic predisposition to an illness,” said Demphis, but I knew early on that my inheritance was depression and anxiety. No matter where I went, I was always pulled aside and told to be everything but myself.” Demphis’ obsession with suicide came to a head one day during summer camp in 2012. “ I remember getting ready to brace myself almost in a daze, unable to control myself and sift through life any longer. As soon as I prepared to do it, the most beautiful thing happened. Every door in the university dorm on my floor opened, and a sea of people that I felt so alienated from suddenly interrupted my attempt to take my life. Looking back, I am extremely grateful that they did.” Fortunately, Demphis received the necessary care and today reports, “I am strong, tenacious, and blessed.”
Dabnis reported always feeling like a lost child until entering treatment. “I’ve always felt misplaced. Like this sad lost child. The one thing that solidified this “lost” identity was not being anchored in any one place for too long. I moved around so much as a child, and through that I learned to reinvent myself every time.” In college, Dabnis dreaded breaks and vacations. “Seems like the times when a college student should be most relieved were the times when I was most anxiety ridden.” For Dabnis, human connection was the answer. “I would have moments in my early adulthood when I felt so defeated and so alone, like no one could see me. And then another stranger with a familiar warmth would enter my little sphere and remind me of why I’m here. These experiences gave me humility and compassion toward anyone who’s ever faced food scarcity and any form of instability. It also gave me the drive to want to achieve more for myself.”
How Key Assets Kentucky Is Helping
The goal of Key Assets Behavioral Health is to be the safety net for children, families, and adults in our community, regardless of the crisis. Among our core beliefs is the idea that we provide ongoing support to help our clients not only in moments of crisis but beyond. This support may take many forms, including psychological assessment or testing, targeted case management, or individual or group therapy.
Each day we work hard to help our community by providing counseling services to people who have emotional or mental disorders or concerns.
Therapy can be beneficial for anyone, no matter the situation. People just like you seek out therapy for many reasons. Some want to better understand their emotions. Others need support to help them get through a difficult season in their life. Other individuals may be going through a difficult life event or change and need assistance in persevering.
Seeking out a therapist is not a sign of weakness—nor should it be a source of shame. Deciding to pursue therapy is empowering and allows you to take back control of your life!
You may think mental health counseling is expensive or not easily available. At Key Assets Kentucky, our qualified therapists are both affordable AND accessible. We are a community-based health care system, so if you can’t make it to one of our offices, we can come to you!