Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
Michelle Morales, 22, struggles with #depression but feels as if her mother is more worried about her physical health than #emotionalhealth.
“My mom would kind of mock me and say, ‘Oh, don’t talk to her. She’s #depressed.’ She would see it as a joke or confuse it for laziness,” said Michelle Morales, who lives in the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Experts say Morales is not alone. Nearly 10 percent of #Latino and #African-Americans have an “unmet need” for #mentalhealthservices, according to Rand Health Care. However, one of the barriers preventing others like Morales to seek help is the #stigma of #mentalillness in those communities, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
#Mentalillness is either considered a taboo or an affliction that can be cured with a change in attitude. Hispanic parents often say things like, “You don’t have #depression: You’re just lazy,” “Cleaning will help your #depression. You just need to stay busy,” or “You’re not sad. You just need attention.”
Hispanics are significantly more at risk for #mentalhealth problems than some other groups. #TheAmericanPsychiatricAssociation also reported that close to 19 percent of Hispanic high school students had seriously considered #suicide; over 15 percent made a plan to attempt suicide; 11.3 percent had attempted #suicide, and 4.1 percent had a #suicide attempt that led to the need for medical attention.
Sadly, some Hispanic families don’t learn the importance of #mentalhealth until it is too late.
“It had to take my cousin’s #suicide for my extended family to realize how important it is to address issues pertaining to #mentalhealth,” said Erick Ponce-Furlos, 21, a student at UC Berkeley who is from South Central L.A.
He added that his family know a lot more now and make concerted efforts to check up on each other, including calling and helping him when he’s stressed out with schoolwork.
Therapy can help, as it did for Frida Ramirez, 20, when she learned she has a generalized #anxiety disorder. But some of her family members’ reactions made things worse, she said.
“It was hard to hide,” Ramirez said about her symptoms, which started in middle school. At first, she attributed the symptoms to #stress from her Advanced Placement classes and homework.
Ramirez said, “When I had mild symptoms, I never thought it was worth mentioning because I thought I was just overreacting. [That’s] what people would tell me, mainly my family.”
Fortunately, she got help — though since losing her insurance, she hasn’t been able to afford therapy.
Resources for those struggling with #mentalillness include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which has a 24-7 hotline, 800-273-8255, and NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill)- South Central Los Angeles, which is at 1720 E. 120th St. Los Angeles CA 90059. The local NAMI group can be reached at (310) 668-4272.