Stopping the Stigma: Decatur Woman Talks about Mental Health Issues in Honor of World Mental Health Day

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It's an issue that one in five Americans experience. 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In honor of World Mental Health Day, a Decatur woman shares her story with WAND News, about what it's like living with mental health issues and what we can do to stop the stigma.

"It was hard. It was a struggle," explains Kate Marshall, a Decatur resident, diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

Marshall has been struggling with anxiety and depression since she was in high school. It wasn't until after graduation and living on her own that she decided to visit Heritage Behavior Health for help.

"I couldn't stay awake, I was sleeping all the time, and just not being able to get out of bed," says Marshall. "It is hard when you have to admit to yourself there's something wrong with you. You learn that it's a disease. It can be hard telling people."

Marshall is not alone. One in 25 adults in America live with a serious mental health issue. According to NAMI, 50% of all lifetime cases begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24.

"I believe we served 5,400 people last year," says Tim Macken, the Chief Operating Officer at Heritage Behavioral Health, "Depression and anxiety are the highest frequency that we see, but then with the psychotic disorders, they're the ones that are the hardest to treat and have more serious effects as far as functioning goes."

Macken believes communication will help break down myths and stigmas surrounding mental health issues.

"Stigma around mental illness goes back hundreds and hundreds of years where individuals who had mental illnesses were often times looked at mostly out of ignorance as to what the cause of it was," says Macken, "Really educating the public and starting to talk about it will help to decrease that stigma."

Marshall believes it's a daily battle; a battle she fights every single day with her husband by her side.

"Everyday you got to choose to live and keep going. He always helps me everyday. When I'm having my dark days, as I call them, he gets me out."

If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness, there are places to go for help.

Talk with your doctor, connect with other individuals and families, and learn more about mental illnesses.

Heritage Behavioral Health located at 151 N. Main St. in Decatur is open Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm. They also have a 24 hour crisis hotline: 217-362-6262.

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