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Mental health stigma needs changed

Editor,

In today’s America, we worry about so many things that sometimes large, societal-level problems get pushed aside by the crisis of the day. The status of our mental healthcare system has been marginalized and ignored for far too long. As a society, we are stigmatizing people who suffer from mental health issues to a point that many never seek services.

We are also critically underfunding agencies and programs that provide care to the people who need it most. You can log onto the Internet any day of the week and see examples, often tragic ones, of our mental healthcare system failing to address the needs of the mentally unwell. This is unacceptable and it has to change.

We also have to look at individual people because that is what mental healthcare and social services come down to. People need to have access to quality mental health services.

We must take the stigma out of the term "mental health." No one should be ashamed or worried about the outcome of seeking help. People avoid care for many reasons, but a significant number do so for the sole fact that they worry about the perception of others.

It is not difficult to point your finger at an issue and decry the status of a certain population; I just did it. The difficulty lies in creating a positive outcome where one does not currently exist. One thing we can all do that is free and will make an enormous impact is to change how we view people with mental health issues. We can recognize the struggle, we can empathize, we can help people reach services they need, and as a society, we can change the perception of mental health issues.

Mary Wolf
Kalispell

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