Our view: Mental health deserves our greatest attention


Unfortunately, mental health is an issue not often discussed by many. That’s a shame because an estimated one out of every four American adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year (according to the National Institute for Mental Health).

Rather than seek help for dealing with these problems, many choose to go it alone, thinking that their mental illness was something they could overcome simply by willpower or sheer strength of conviction. What is far worse is the social stigma still attached to the admission that one suffers from mental illness. Oh, don’t let anyone know that happens in OUR family!

Mental illness is just that – an illness – and it requires the thoughtful care of a doctor or health practitioner just like any other disease or malady.

That’s why we’re thankful for the efforts of people like our own Dr. Jim Walter, who, with a limited budget and few resources, managed to turn a small, underfunded program into what East Alabama Mental Health is today, spanning four East Alabama counties with outpatient clinics, a crisis stabilization unit and residential programs that help care for people with both mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities.

Now, people who feel they have a mental health issue have safe, comfortable environments in which to seek help.

In addition to building up our resources for helping to combat mental illnesses, Walter also tried to help change hearts and minds about how local people saw mental health issues.

He tried to remove the stigma from seeking mental health help and show people the greatest strength they could show was not trying to stand alone, but to ask for help.

If we could start treating mental illnesses like we do other diseases people get, we also might help remove some of the bias against mental illness.

We don’t yell at people for having lupus or cancer, nor do we shame them about seeking treatment for those ailments. Why should mental health be any different?

Why should someone be questioned or made to feel less than normal for visiting a psychiatrist or trying to find ways to deal with their own mental anguish?

We don’t know, but they are.

If you have a loved one or know someone you think may have a mental health issue, urge them to contact East Alabama Mental Health and continue to offer them love, support and encouragement as they face their battle with their mental problem.

If you think you may have a mental health issue, we urge you to seek help from East Alabama Mental Health – that’s exactly the sort of reason they exist. It it’s a lot better than one alternative we have increasingly and sadly encountered – suicide.

You don’t have to fight your fight alone – there are people in our community who are here to help you be a healthier you – mentally as well as physically.

Take advantage of that, please.


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